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FRANCBS HODGSON BURNETT
A LITTLE PRINCESS
I am not — I am not dreaming !
BEING THE WHOLE STORY OF SARA CREWE
NOW TOLD FOR THE FIRST TIME
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLORS BY
ETHEL FRANKLIN BETTS
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
NEW YORK 1917
Copyright, 1888 and 1905, by
Charles Scribner's Sons
Published September, 1905
THE WHOLE OF THE STORY
I do not know whether' many people realize how much
more than is ever written there really is in a story — how
many parts of it are never told — how much more really
happened than there is in the hook one holds in one's hand
and pores over. Stories are something like letters. When
a letter is written^ how often one remembers things omitted
and says, "Ah, why did I not tell them that?" In writing
a hook one relates all that one remeinhers at the time, and if
one told all that really happened perhaps the book would
never end. Between the lines of every story there is an-
other story, and that is one that is never heard and can only
be guessed at by the people who are good at guessing. The
person who writes the story 7nay never know all of it, but
sometimes he does and wishes he had the chance to begin
When I wrote the story of " Sara Crewe " I guessed that
a great deal more had happened at Miss Minchins than I
had had time to find out just then. I knew, of course, that
there must have been chapters full of things going on all
THE WHOLE OF THE STORY
the time; and when I began to make a play out of the hook
and called it "A Little Princess/' I discovered three acts
full of things. What interested me most was that I found
that there had been girls at the school whose names I had
not even known before. There was a little girl whose name
was Lottie, who was an amusing little person; there was a
hungry scullery-maid who was Sara's adoring friend; Er-
mengarde was much more entertaining than she had
seemed at first; things happened in the garret which had
never been hinted at in the book; and a certain gentleman
whose name was Melchisedec was an intimate friend of
Sara's who should never have been left out of the story if
he had only walked into it in time. He and Becky and
Lottie lived at Wliss Minchin's, and I cannot understand
why they did not mention themselves to me at first. They
were as real as Sara, and it was careless of them not to come
out of the story shadowland and say, ''Here I am— tell
about me." But they did not— which was their fault and
not mine. People who live in the story one is writing ought
to come forward at the beginning and tap the writing per-
son on the shoulder and say, " Hallo, what about me? " If
they don't, no one can be blamed but themselves and their
slouching, idle ways.
After the play of "A Little Princess " was produced in
New York, and so many children went to see it and liked
Becky and Lottie and Melchisedec, my publishers asked
THE WHOLE OF THE STORY
me if I could not write Saras story over again and put
into it all the things and people who had been left out he-
fore, and so I have done it; and when I began I found there
were actually pages and pages of things which had hap-
pened that had never been put even into the play, so in this
new " Little Princess " I have put all I have been able to
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT,
I SARA 3
II A FRENCH LESSON 16
III ERMENGARDE 24
IV LOTl'IE 34
V BECKY 45
VI THE DIAMOND-MINES 58
VII THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 72
VIII IN THE ATTIC 97
IX MELCHISEDEC 110
X THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 124
XI RAM DASS 139
XII THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL 151
XIII ONE OF THE POPULACE 162
XIV WHAT MELCHISEDEC HEARD AND SAW . . 175
XV THE MAGIC 182
XVI THE VISITOR 213
XVII "IT IS THE CHILD!" 233
XVIII "I TRIED NOT TO BE " 243
XIX "ANNE" 258
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
lam not — I am wof dreaming ! " .... Frontispiece
They decided to walk and look in at the shop windows . 12
She was not abashed at all by the many pairs of eyes
watching her 16
More than once she had been known to have a tea-
When she sat in the midst of a circle and began to invent
wonderful things 46
The children crowded clamoring around her .... 76
She seldom cried. She did not cry now 94
The sparrows twittered and hopped about quite with-
out fear 112
The beggar girl was still huddled up in the corner . . 168
Miss Minchin stinick the door open with a blow of her
She sat down and held him on her knee 230
Noticed that his companion . . . sat gazing into the fire 260
A LITTLE PRINCESS
A LITTLE PRINCESS
ONCE on a dark winter's day, when the yellow fog
I hung so thick and heavy in the streets of London
that the lamps were lighted and the shop windows
blazed with gas as they do at night, an odd-looking little
girl sat in a cab with her father and was driven rather
slowly through the big thoroughfares.
She sat with her feet tucked under her, and leaned
against her father, who held her in his arm, as she stared
out of the window at the passing people with a queer old-
fashioned thoughtfulness in her big eyes.
She was such a little girl that one did not expect to see
such a look on her small face. It would have been an old
look for a child of twelve, and Sara Crewe was only seven.
The fact was, however, that she was always dreaming and
thinking odd things and could not herself remember any
time when she had not been thinking things about grown-
up people and the world they belonged to. She felt as if
she had lived a long, long time.
At this moment she was remembering the voyage she
4 A LITTLE PRINCESS
had just made from Bombay with her father, Captain
Crewe. She was thinking of the big ship, of the Lascars
passing silently to and fro on it, of the children playing
about on the hot deck, and of some young officers' wives
who used to try to make her talk to them and laugh at the
things she said.
Principally, she was thinking of what a queer thing it
was that at one time one was in India in the blazing sun,
and then in the middle of the ocean, and then driving in a
strange vehicle through strange streets where the day was
as dark as the night. She found this so puzzling that she
moved closer to her father.
*' Papa," she said in a low, mysterious little voice which
was almost a whisper, " papa."
"What is it, darling?" Captain Crewe answered, hold-
ing her closer and looking down into her face. " What is
Sara thinking of? "
"Is this the place?" Sara whispered, cuddling still
closer to him. "Is it, papa?"
"Yes, little Sara, it is. We have reached it at last."
And though she was only seven years old, she knew that
he felt sad when he said it.
It seemed to her many years since he had begun to pre-
pare her mind for " the place," as she always called it. Her
mother had died when she was born, so she had never known
or missed her. Her young, handsome, rich, petting father
seemed to be the only relation she had in the world. They
had always played together and been fond of each other.
She only knew he was rich because she had heard people
say so when they thought she was not hstening, and she had
also heard them say that when she grew up she would be
rich, too. She did not know all that being rich meant. She
had always lived in a beautiful bungalow, and had been
used to seeing many servants who made salaams to her and
called her " Missee Sahib," and gave her her own way in
everything. She had had toys and pets and an ayah who
worshipped her, and she had gradually learned that people
who were rich had these things. That, however, was all she
knew about it.
During her short life only one thing had troubled her,
and that thing was " the place " she was to be taken to some
day. The climate of India was very bad for children, and
as soon as possible they were sent away from it — generally
to England and to school. She had seen other children go
away, and had heard their fathers and mothers talk about
the letters they received from them. She had known that
she would be obliged to go also, and though sometimes her
father's stories of the voyage and the new country had at-
tracted her, she had been troubled by the thought that he
could not stay with her.
"Couldn't you go to that place with me, papa?" she
had asked when she was five years old. " Could n't you go
to school, too? I would help you with your lessons."
" But you will not have to stay for a very long time, little
Sara," he had always said. " You will go to a nice house
where there will be a lot of little girls, and you will play
together, and I will send you plenty of books, and you
will grow so fast that it will seem scarcely a year before
6 A LITTLE PRINCESS
you are big enough and clever enough to come back and
take care of papa."
She had liked to think of that. To keep the house
for her father; to ride with him, and sit at the head
of his table when he had dinner-parties; to talk to him
and read his books— that would be what she would like
most in the world, and if one must go away to " the place "
in England to attain it, she must make up her mind to go.
She did not care very much for other little girls, but if she
had plenty of books she could console herself. She liked
books more than anything else, and was, in fact, always in-
venting stories of beautiful things and telling them to her-
self. Sometimes she had told them to her father, and he
had liked them as much as she did.
" Well, papa," she said softly, " if we are here I suppose
we must be resigned."
He laughed at her old-fashioned speech and kissed her.
He was really not at all resigned himself, though he knew
he must keep that a secret. His quaint little Sara had been
a great companion to him, and he felt he should be a lonely
fellow when, on his return to India, he went into his bunga-
low knowing he need not expect to see the small figure in
its white frock come forward to meet him. So he held
her very closely in his arm as the cab rolled into the big,
dull square in which stood the house which was their des-
It was a big, dull, brick house, exactly like all the others
in its row, but that on the front door there shone a brass
plate on which was engraved in black letters :
Select Seminary for Young Ladles.
"Here we are, Sara," said Captain Crewe, making his
voice sound as cheerful as possible. Then he lifted her out
of the cab and they mounted the steps and rang the bell.
Sara often thought afterward that the house was somehow
exactly like Miss Minchin. It was respectable and well
furnished, but everything in it was ugly ; and the very arm-
chairs seemed to have hard bones in them. In the hall
everything was hard and polished— even the red cheeks of
the moon face on the tall clock in the corner had a severe
varnished look. The drawing-room into which they were
ushered was covered by a carpet with a square pattern upon
it, the chairs were square, and a heavy marble timepiece
stood upon the heavy marble mantel.
As she sat down in one of the stiff mahogany chairs,
Sara cast one of her quick looks about her.
" I don't like it, papa," she said. " But then I dare say
soldiers — even brave ones — don't really like going into
Captain Crewe laughed outright at this. He was young
and full of fun, and he never tired of hearing Sara's queer
" Oh, little Sara," he said. " What shall I do when I
have no one to say solemn things to me? No one else is
quite as solemn as you are."
"But why do solemn things make you laugh so?" in-
8 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" Because you are such fun when you say them," he an-
swered, laughing still more. And then suddenly he swept
her into his arms and kissed her very hard, stopping laugh-
ing all at once and looking almost as if tears had come into
It was just then that Miss Minchin entered the room. She
was very like her house, Sara felt: tall and dull, and respect-
able and ugly. She had large, cold, fishy eyes, and a large,
cold, fishy smile. It spread itself into a very large smile
when she saw Sara and Captain Crewe. She had heard a
great many desirable things of the young soldier from the
lady who had recommended her school to him. Among
other things, she had heard that he was a rich father who
was willing to spend a great deal of money on his little
" It will be a great privilege to have charge of such a
beautiful and promising child. Captain Crewe," she said,
taking Sara's hand and stroking it. " Lady Meredith has
told me of her unusual cleverness. A clever child is a great
treasure in an establishment like mine."
Sara stood quietly, with her eyes fixed upon Miss Min-
chin's face. She was thinking something odd, as usual.
"Why does she say I am a beautiful child," she was
thinking. " I am not beautiful at all. Colonel Grange's
little girl, Isobel, is beautiful. She has dimples and rose-
colored cheeks, and long hair the color of gold. I have
short black hair and green eyes; besides which, I am a thin
child and not fair in the least. I am one of the ugliest chil-
dren I ever saw. She is beginning by telling a story."
She was mistaken, however, in thinking she was an ugly
child. She was not in the least like Isobel Grange, who had
been the beauty of the regiment, but she had an odd charm
of her own. She was a slim, supple creature, rather tall for
her age, and had an intense, attractive little face. Her hair
was heavy and quite black and only curled at the tips ; her
eyes were greenish gray, it is true, but they were big, won-
derful eyes with long, black lashes, and though she herself
did not like the color of them, many other people did. Still
she was very firm in her belief that she was an ugly little
girl, and she was not at all elated by Miss Minchin's flat-
" I should be telling a story if I said she was beautiful,"
she thought ; " and I should know I was telling a story. I
believe I am as ugly as she is — in my way. What did she
say that for?"
After she had known Miss Minchin longer she learned
why she had said it. She discovered that she said the same
thing to each papa and mamma who brought a child to her
Sara stood near her father and listened while he and Miss
Minchin talked. She had been brought to the seminary
because Lady Meredith's two little girls had been edu-
cated there, and Captain Crewe had a great respect for
Lady Meredith's experience. Sara was to be what was
known as "a parlor-boarder," and she was to enjoy
even greater privileges than parlor-boarders usually did.
She was to have a pretty bedroom and sitting-room of
her own; she was to have a pony and a carriage, and a
10 A LITTLE PRINCESS
maid to take the place of the ayah who had been her nurse
" I am not in the least anxious about her education,"
Captain Crewe said, with his gay laugh, as he held Sara's
hand and patted it. " The difficulty will be to keep her
from learning too fast and too much. She is always sitting
with her little nose burrowing into books. She doesn't
read them. Miss Minchin; she gobbles them up as if she
were a little wolf instead of a little girl. She is always
starving for new books to gobble, and she wants grown-up
books — great, big, fat ones — French and German as well
as English — history and biography and poets, and all sorts
of things. Drag her away from her books when she reads
too much. Make her ride her pony in the Row or go out
and buy a new doll. She ought to play more with dolls."
" Papa," said Sara. " You see, if I went out and bought
a new doll every few days I should have more than I could
be fond of. Dolls ought to be intimate friends. Emily is
going to be my intimate friend."
Captain Crewe looked at Miss Minchin and Miss Mfn-
chin looked at Captain Crewe.
" Who is Emily? " she inquired.
" Tell her, Sara," Captain Crewe said, smiling.
Sara's green-gray eyes looked very solemn and quite soft
as she answered.
" She is a doll I have n't got yet," she said. " She is a doll
papa is going to buy for me. We are going out together to
find her. I have called her Emily. She is going to be my
friend when papa is gone. I want her to talk to about
Miss MInchin's large, fishy smile became very flattering
"What an original child!" she said. "What a darling
" Yes," said Captain Crewe, drawing Sara close. " She
is a darling little creature. Take great care of her for me.
Sara stayed with her father at his hotel for several days;
in fact, she remained with him until he sailed away again to
India. They went out and visited many big shops to-
gether, and bought a great many things. They bought,
indeed, a great many more things than Sara needed; but
Captain Crewe was a rash, innocent young man and wanted
his little girl to have everything she admired and every-
thing he admired himself, so between them they collected
a wardrobe much too grand for a child of seven. There
were velvet dresses trimmed with costly furs, and lace
dresses, and embroidered ones, and hats with great, soft os-
trich feathers, and ermine coats and muffs, and boxes of
tiny gloves and handkerchiefs and silk stockings in such
abundant supplies that the polite young women behind the
counters whispered to each other that the odd little girl
with the big, solemn eyes must be at least some foreign
princess— perhaps the little daughter of an Indian rajah.
And at last they found Emily, but they went to a num-
ber of toy-shops and looked at a great many dolls before
they finally discovered her.
*' I want her to look as if she was n't a doll really," Sara
said. " I want her to look as if she listens when I talk to
her. The trouble with dolls, papa "—and she put her head
12 A LITTLE PRINCESS
on one side and reflected as she said it—" the trouble with
dolls is that they never seem to hear." So they looked at
big ones and little ones— at dolls with black eyes and dolls
with blue — at dolls with brown curls and dolls with golden
braids, dolls dressed and dolls undressed.
*' You see," Sara said when they were examining one
who had no clothes. '' If, when I find her, she has no frocks,
we can take her to a dressmaker and have her things made
to fit. They will fit better if they are tried on."
After a number of disappointments they decided to walk
and look in at the shop windows and let the cab follow
them. They had passed two or three places without even
going in, when, as they were approaching a shop which was
really not a very large one, Sara suddenly started and
clutched her father's arm.
" Oh, papa! " she cried. " There is Emily! "
A flush had risen to her face and there was an expression
in her green-gray eyes as if she had just recognized some
one she was intimate with and fond of.
" She is actually waiting for us! " she said. " Let us go
in to her."
" Dear me! " said Captain Crewe; " I feel as if we ought
to have some one to introduce us."
*' You must introduce me and I will introduce you," said
Sara. " But I knew her the minute I saw her — so perhaps
she knew me, too."
Perhaps she had known her. She had certainly a very
intelligent expression in her eyes when Sara took her in her
arms. She was a large doll, but not too large to carry about
They decided to walk and look in at the shop windows.
easily ; she had naturally curling golden-brown hair, which
hung like a mantle about her, and her eyes were a deep,
clear, gray blue, with soft, thick eyelashes which were real
eyelashes and not mere painted lines.
" Of course," said Sara, looking into her face as she held
her on her knee — " of course, papa, this is Emily."
So Emily was bought and actually taken to a children's
outfitter's shop, and measured for a wardrobe as grand as
Sara's own. She had lace frocks, too, and velvet and mus-
lin ones, and hats and coats and beautiful lace-trimmed
underclothes, and gloves and handkerchiefs and furs.
" I should like her always to look as if she was a child
with a good mother," said Sara. " I 'm her mother, though
I am going to make a companion of her."
Captain Crewe would really have enjoyed the shopping
tremendously, but that a sad thought kept tugging at his
heart. This all meant that he was going to be separated
from his beloved, quaint little comrade.
He got out of his bed in the middle of that night and
went and stood looking down at Sara, who lay asleep with
Emily in her arms. Her black hair was spread out on the
pillow and Emily's golden-brown hair mingled with it, both
of them had lace-ruffled night-gowns, and both had long
eyelashes which lay and curled up on their cheeks* Emily
looked so like a real child that Captain Crewe felt glad she
was there. He drew a big sigh and pulled his mustache
with a boyish expression.
"Heigh-ho, little Sara!" he said to himself. "I don't
believe you know how much your daddy will miss you."
14 A LITTLE PRINCESS
The next day he took her to Miss Minehin's and left her
there. He was to sail away the next morning. He ex-
plained to Miss Minchin that his solicitors, Messrs. Barrow
& Skipworth, had charge of his affairs in England and
would give her any advice she wanted, and that they would
pay the bills she sent in for Sara's expenses. He would
write to Sara twice a week, and she was to be given every
pleasure she asked for.
" She is a sensible little thing, and she never wants any-
thing it is n't safe to give her," he said.
Then he went with Sara into her little sitting-room and
they bade each other good-by. Sara sat on his knee and
held the lapels of his coat in her small hands, and looked
long and hard at his face.
"Are you learning me by heart, little Sara," he said,
stroking her hair.
" No," she answered. " I know you by heart. You are
inside my heart." And they put their arms round each
other and kissed as if they would never let each other go.
When the cab drove away from the door, Sara was sitting
on the floor of her sitting-room, with her hands under her
chin and her eyes following it until it had turned the corner
of the square. Emily was sitting by her, and she looked
after it, too. When Miss Minchin sent her sister, Miss
Amelia, to see what the child was doing, she found she
could not open the door.
" I have locked it," said a queer, polite little voice from
inside. " I want to be quite by myself, if you please."
Miss Amelia was fat and dumpy, and stood very much
in awe of her sister. She was really the better-natured per-
son of the two, but she never disobeyed Miss Minchin. She
went down-stairs again, looking almost alarmed.
" I never saw such a funnj^ old-fashioned child, sister,"
she said. " She has locked herself in, and she is not making
the least particle of noise."
" It is much better than if she kicked and screamed, as
some of them do," Miss Minchin answered. " I expected
that a child as much spoiled as she is would set the whole
house in an uproar. If ever a child was given her own way
in everything, she is."
" I 've been opening her trunks and putting her things
away," said Miss Amelia. " I never saw anything like
them— sable and ermine on her coats, and real Valenciennes
lace on her underclothing. You have seen some of her
clothes. What do you think of them? "
" I think they are perfectly ridiculous," replied Miss
Minchin, sharply; " but they will look very well at the head
of the line when we take the school-children to church on
Sunday. She has been provided for as if she were a little
And up-stairs in the locked room Sara and Emily sat
on the floor and stared at the corner round which the cab
had disappeared, while Captain Crewe looked backward,
waving and kissing his hand as if he could not bear to stop.
A FRENCH LESSON
WHEN Sara entered the school-room the next
morning everybody looked at her with wide,
interested eyes. By that time every pupil—
from Lavinia Herbert, who was nearly thirteen and felt
quite grown up, to Lottie Legh, who was only just four
and the baby of the school— had heard a great deal about
her. They knew very certainly that she was Miss Min-
chin's show pupil and was considered a credit to the estab-
lishment. One or two of them had even caught a glimpse
of her French maid, Mariette, who had arrived the evening
before. Lavinia had managed to pass Sara's room when
the door was open, and had seen Mariette opening a box
which had arrived late from some shop.
" It was full of petticoats with lace frills on them— frills
and frills," she whispered to her friend Jessie as she bent
over her geography. " I saw her shaking them out. I
heard Miss Minchin say to Miss Amelia that her clothes
were so grand that they were ridiculous for a child. My
mamma says that children should be dressed simply. She
has got one of those petticoats on now. I saw it when she
blie was not abashed at all by the many pairs of eyes watching her
A FRENCH LESSON 17
" She has silk stockings on! " whispered Jessie, bending
over her geography also. " And what little feet! I never
saw such little feet."
" Oh," sniffed Lavinia, spitefully, " that is the way her
slippers are made. My mamma says that even big feet can
be made to look small if you have a clever shoemaker. I
don't think she is pretty at all. Her eyes are such a queer
" She is n't pretty as other pretty people are," said Jessie,
stealing a glance across the room ; " but she makes you want
to look at her again. She has tremendously long eyelashes,
but her eyes are almost green."
Sara was sitting quietly in her seat, waiting to be told
what to do. She had been placed near Miss Minchin's
desk. She was not abashed at all by the many pairs of
eyes watching her. She was interested and looked back
quietly at the children who looked at her. She wondered
what they were thinking of, and if they liked Miss Minchin,
and if they cared for their lessons, and if any of them had
a papa at all like her own. She had had a long talk with
Emily about her papa that morning.
" He is on the sea now, Emily," she had said. " We
must be very great friends to each other and tell each other
things. Emily, look at me. You have the nicest eyes I
ever saw,— but I wish you could speak."
She was a child full of imaginings and whimsical
thoughts, and one of her fancies was that there would be a
great deal of comfort in even pretending that Emily was
alive and really heard and understood. After Mariette had
18 A LITTLE PRINCESS
dressed her in her dark-blue school-room frock and tied her
hair with a dark-blue ribbon, she went to Emily, who sat
in a chair of her own, and gave her a book.
"You can read that while I am down-stairs," she said;
and, seeing Mariette looking at her curiously, she spoke to
her with a serious little face.
" What I believe about dolls," she said, " is that they can
do things they will not let us know about. Perhaps, really,
Emily can read and talk and walk, but she will only do it
when people are out of the room. That is her secret. You
see, if people knew that dolls could do things, they would
make them work. So, perhaps, they have promised each
other to keep it a secret. If you stay in the room, Emily
will just sit there and stare ; but if you go out, she will begin
to read, perhaps, or go and look out of the window. Then
if she heard either of us coming, she would just run back
and jump into her chair and pretend she had been there all
"Covime elle est drole!" Mariette said to herself, and when
she went down-stairs she told the head housemaid about it.
But she had already begun to like this odd little girl who
had such an intelligent small face and such perfect man-
ners. She had taken care of children before who were not
so polite. Sara was a very fine little person, and had a gen-
tle, appreciative way of saying, " If you please, Mariette,"
" Thank you, Mariette," which was very charming. Mari-
ette told the head housemaid that she thanked her as if she
was thanking a lady.
" Elle a Vair d'une princesse, cette petite T she said. In-
A FRENCH LESSON 19
deed, she was very much pleased with her new httle mistress
and Hked her place greatly.
After Sara had sat in her seat in the school-room for a
few minutes, being looked at by the pupils, Miss Minchin
rapped in a dignified manner upon her desk.
" Young ladies," she said, " I wish to introduce you to
your new companion." All the little girls rose in their
places, and Sara rose also. " I shall expect you all to be
very agreeable to Miss Crewe ; she has just come to us from
a great distance— in fact, from India. As soon as lessons
are over you must make each other's acquaintance."
The pupils bowed ceremoniously, and Sara made a little
courtesy, and then they sat down and looked at each other
" Sara," said Miss Minchin in her school-room manner,
" come here to me."
She had taken a book from the desk and was turning over
its leaves. Sara went to her politely.
" As your papa has engaged a French maid for you," she
began, " I conclude that he wishes you to make a special
study of the French language."
Sara felt a little awkward.
"I think he engaged her," she said, "because he— he
thought I would like her. Miss Minchin."
" I am afraid," said Miss Minchin, with a slightly sour
smile, " that you have been a very spoiled little girl and
always imagine that things are done because you like them.
My impression is that your papa wished you to learn
20 A LITTLE PRINCESS
If Sara had been older or less punctilious about being
quite polite to people, she could have explained herself in a
very few words. But, as it was, she felt a flush rising on
her cheeks. Miss Minchin was a very severe and imposing
person, and she seemed so absolutely sure that Sara knew
nothing whatever of French that she felt as if it would be
almost rude to correct her. The truth was that Sara could
not remember the time when she had not seemed to know
French. Her father had often spoken it to her when
she had been a baby. Her mother had been a French-
woman, and Captain Crewe had loved her language, so it
happened that Sara had always heard and been famihar
" I— I have never really learned French, but— but— "
she began, trying shyly to make herself clear.
One of Miss Minchin's chief secret annoyances was that
she did not speak French herself, and was desirous of con-
cealing the irritating fact. She, therefore, had no intention
of discussing the matter and laying herself open to inno-
cent questioning by a new little pupil.
" That is enough," she said with polite tartness. " If
you have not learned, you must begin at once. The French
master, INIonsieur Dufarge, will be here in a few minutes.
Take this book and look at it until he arrives."
Sara's cheeks felt warm. She went back to her seat and
opened the book. She looked at the first page with a grave
face. She knew it would be rude to smile, and she was very
determined not to be rude. But it was very odd to find her-
self expected to study a page which told her that '' le
A FRENCH LESSON 21
pere" meant "the father," and "la mere" meant "the
Miss Minchin glanced toward her scrutinizingly.
" You look rather cross, Sara," she said. " I am sorry
you do not like the idea of learning French."
" I am very fond of it," answered Sara, thinking she
would try again ; " but—"
" You must not say ' but ' when you are told to do
things," said Miss Minchin. " Look at your book again."
And Sara did so, and did not smile, even when she found
that "le fils" meant "the son," and " le frere" meant
" When Monsieur Dufarge comes," she thought, " I can
make him understand."
Monsieur Dufarge arrived very shortly afterward. He
was a very nice, intelligent, middle-aged Frenchman, and
he looked interested when his eyes fell upon Sara trying
politely to seem absorbed in her little book of phrases.
" Is this a new pupil for me, madame? " he said to Miss
Minchin. " I hope that is my good fortune."
"Her papa— Captain Crewe— is very anxious that she
should begin the language. But I am afraid she has a
childish prejudice against it. She does not seem to wish to
learn," said Miss Minchin.
" I am sorry of that, mademoiselle," he said kindly to
Sara. " Perhaps, when we begin to study together, I may
show you that it is a charming tongue."
Little Sara rose in her seat. She was beginning to feel
rather desperate, as if she were almost in disgrace. She
22 A LITTLE PRINCESS
looked up into Monsieur Dufarge's face with her big,
green-gray eyes, and they were quite innocently appealing.
She knew that he would understand as soon as she spoke.
She began to explain quite simply in pretty and fluent
French. Madame had not understood. She had not
learned French exactly,— not out of books,— but her papa
and other people had always spoken it to her, and she had
read it and written it as she had read and written English.
Her papa loved it, and she loved it because he did. Her
dear mamma, who had died when she was born, had been
French. She would be glad to learn anything monsieur
would teach her, but what she had tried to explain to ma-
dame was that she already knew the words in this book —
and she held out the little book of phrases.
When she began to speak JNIiss Minchin started quite
violently and sat staring at her over her eye-glasses, almost
indignantly, until she had finished. Monsieur Dufarge
began to smile, and his smile was one of great pleasure. To
hear this pretty childish voice speaking his own language so
simply and charmingly made him feel almost as if he were
in his natiive land — which in dark, foggy days in London
sometimes seemed worlds away. When she had finished,
he took the phrase-book from her, with a look almost affec-
tionate. But he spoke to Miss Minchin.
" Ah, madame," he said, " there is not much I can teach
her. She has not learned French ; she is French. Her ac-
cent is exquisite."
" You ought to have told me," exclaimed Miss Minchin,
much mortified, turning on Sara.
A FRENCH LESSON 23
" I— I tried," said Sara. " I— I suppose I did not begin
^liss Minchin knew she had tried, and that it had not
been her fault that she was not allowed to explain. And
when she saw that the pupils had been listening and that
Lavinia and Jessie were giggling behind their French
grammars, she felt infuriated.
" Silence, young ladies! " she said severely, rapping upon
the desk. " Silence at once! "
And she began from that minute to feel rather a grudge
against her show pupil.
ON that first morning, when Sara sat at Miss Min-
( chin's side, aware that the whole school-room was
devoting itself to observing her, she had noticed
very soon one little girl, about her own age, who looked at
her very hard with a pair of light, rather dull, blue eyes. She
was a fat child who did not look as if she were in the least
clever, but she had a good-naturedly pouting mouth. Her
flaxen hair was braided in a tight pigtail, tied with a rib-
bon, and she had pulled this pigtail round her neck, and
was biting the end of the ribbon, resting her elbows on the
desk, as she stared wonderingly at the new pupil. When
Monsieur Dufarge began to speak to Sara, she looked a
little frightened; and when Sara stepped forward and,
looking at him with the innocent, appealing eyes, answered
him, without any warning, in French, the fat little girl gave
a startled jump, and grew quite red in her awed amaze-
ment. Having wept hopeless tears for weeks in her efforts
to remember that " la mere " meant " the mother," and " le
pere" "the father,"— when one spoke sensible English,—
it was almost too much for her to suddenly find herself
listening to a child her own age who seemed not only quite
familiar with these words, but apparently knew any num-
ber of others, and could mix them up with verbs as if they
were mere trifles.
She stared so hard and bit the ribbon on her pigtail so
fast that she attracted the attention of Miss Minchin, who,
feeling extremely cross at the moment, immediately
pounced upon her.
"Miss St. John!" she exclaimed severely. "What do
you mean by such conduct? Remove your elbows! Take
your ribbon out of your mouth ! Sit up at once ! "
Upon which Miss St. John gave another jump, and
when Lavinia and Jessie tittered she became redder than
ever — so red, indeed, that she almost looked as if tears were
coming into her poor, dull, childish eyes ; and Sara saw her
and was so sorry for her that she began to rather like her
and want to be her friend. It was a way of hers always to
want to spring into any fray in which some one was made
uncomfortable or unhappy.
" If Sara had been a boy and lived a few centuries ago,"
her father used to say, " she would have gone about the
country with her sword drawn, rescuing and defending
every one in distress. She always wants to fight when she
sees people in trouble."
So she took rather a fancy to fat, slow, little Miss St.
John, and kept glancing toward her through the morning.
She saw that lessons were no easy matter to her, and that
there was no danger of her ever being spoiled by being
treated as a show pupil. Her French lesson was a pathetic
thing. Her pronunciation made even Monsieur Dufarge
26 A LITTLE PRINCESS
smile in spite of himself, and Lavinia and Jessie and the
more fortunate girls either giggled or looked at her in won-
dering disdain. But Sara did not laugh. She tried to look
as if she did not hear when Miss St. John called " le bon
pain" " lee hong pang." She had a fine, hot little temper
of her own, and it made her feel rather savage when she
heard the titters and saw the poor, stupid, distressed child's
"It isn't funny, really," she said between her teeth, as
she bent over her book. " They ought not to laugh."
When lessons were over and the pupils gathered to-
gether in groups to talk, Sara looked for Miss St. John,
and finding her bundled rather disconsolately in a window-
seat, she walked over to her and spoke. She only said
the kind of thing little girls always say to each other
by way of beginning an acquaintance, but there was some-
thing nice and friendly about Sara, and people always
" What is your name? " she said.
To explain Miss St. John's amazement one must recall
that a new pupil is, for a short time, a somewhat uncertain
thing; and of this new pupil the entire school had talked
the night before until it fell asleep quite exhausted by ex-
citement and contradictory stories. A new pupil with a
carriage and a pony and a maid, and a voyage from India
to discuss, was not an ordinary acquaintance.
" My name 's Ermengarde St. John," she answered.
" Mine is Sara Crewe," said Sara. " Yours is very
pretty. It sounds like a story-book."
*'Do you like it?" fluttered Ermengarde. "I— I like
Miss St. John's chief trouble in life was that she had a
clever father. Sometimes this seemed to her a dreadful ca-
lamity. If you have a father who knows everything, who
speaks seven or eight languages, and has thousands of
volumes which he has apparently learned by heart, he fre-
quently expects you to be familiar with the contents of
your lesson-books at least ; and it is not improbable that he
will feel you ought to be able to remember a few incidents
of history and to write a French exercise. Ermengarde
was a severe trial to Mr. St. John. He could not under-
stand how a child of his could be a notably and unmistak-
ably dull creature who never shone in anything.
" Good heavens ! " he had said more than once, as he
stared at her, " there are times when I think she is as stupid
as her Aunt Eliza ! "
If her Aunt Eliza had been slow to learn and quick to
forget a thing entirely when she had learned it, Ermen-
garde was strikingly like her. She was the monumental
dunce of the school, and it could not be denied.
" She must be made to learn," her father said to Miss
Consequently Ermengarde spent the greater part of her
life in disgrace or in tears. She learned things and forgot
them ; or, if she remembered them, she did not understand
them. So it was natural that, having made Sara's acquain-
tance, she should sit and stare at her with profound admi-
28 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"You can speak French, can't you?" she said respect-
Sara got on to the window-seat, which was a big, deep
one, and, tucking up her feet, sat with her hands clasped
round her knees.
" I can speak it because I have heard it all my life,"
she answered. " You could speak it if you had always
" Oh, no, I could n't," said Ermengarde. " I never could
" Why? " inquired Sara, curiously.
Ermengarde shook her head so that the pigtail wabbled.
" You heard me just now," she said. " I 'm always like
that. I can't say the words. They 're so queer."
She paused a moment, and then added with a touch of
awe in her voice:
" You are clever, are n't you? "
Sara looked out of the window into the dingy square,
where the sparrows were hopping and twittering on the
wet, iron railings and the sooty branches of the trees. She
reflected a few moments. She had heard it said very often
that she was " clever," and she wondered if she was,— and
if she was, how it had happened.
" I don't know," she said. " I can't tell." Then, seeing
a mournful look on the round, chubby face, she gave a little
laugh and changed the subject.
"Would you like to see Emily?" she inquired.
" Who is Emily? " Ermengarde asked, just as Miss Min-
chin had done.
" Come up to my room and see," said Sara, holding out
They jumped down from the window-seat together, and
" Is it true," Ermengarde whispered, as they went
through the hall—" is it true that you have a play -room all
" Yes," Sara answered. " Papa asked Miss Minchin to
let me have one, because— well, it was because when I play
I make up stories and tell them to myself, and I don't like
people to hear me. It spoils it if I think people listen."
They had reached the passage leading to Sara's room
by this time, and Ermengarde stopped short, staring, and
quite losing her breath.
" You make up stories! " she gasped. " Can you do that
— as well as speak French? Can you?"
Sara looked at her in simple surprise.
" Why, any one can make up things," she said. " Have
you never tried?"
She put her hand warningly on Ermengarde's.
" Let us go very quietly to the door," she whispered,
"and then I will open it quite suddenly; perhaps we may
She was half laughing, but there was a touch of myste-
rious hope in her eyes which fascinated Ermengarde,
though she had not the remotest idea what it meant, or
whom it was she wanted to " catch," or why she wanted to
catch her. Whatsoever she meant, Ermengarde was sure
it was something delightfully exciting. So, quite thrilled
30 A LITTLE PRINCESS
with expectation, she followed her on tiptoe along the pas-
sage. They made not the least noise until they reached
the door. Then Sara suddenly turned the handle, and
threw it wide open. Its opening revealed the room quite
neat and quiet, a fire gently burning in the grate, and a
wonderful doll sitting in a chair by it, apparently reading
" Oh, she got back to her seat before we could see her! "
Sara exclaimed. " Of course they always do. They are as
quick as lightning."
Ermengarde looked from her to the doll and back again.
"Can she— walk?" she asked breathlessly.
" Yes," answered Sara. " At least I believe she can. At
least I jjretend I believe she can. And that makes it seem
as if it were true. Have you never pretended things?"
"No," said Ermengarde. "Never. I— tell me about
She was so bewitched by this odd, new companion that
she actually stared at Sara instead of at Emily — notwith-
standing that Emily was the most attractive doll person
she had ever seen.
" Let us sit down," said Sara, " and I will tell you. It 's
so easy that when you begin you can't stop. You just go
on and on doing it always. And it 's beautiful. Emily,
you must listen. This is Ermengarde St. John, Emily.
Ermengarde, this is Emil5^ Would you like to hold her? "
" Oh, may I? " said Ermengarde. " May I, really? She
is beautiful!" And Emily was put into her arms.
Never in her dull, short life had Miss St. John dreamed
of such an hour as the one she spent with the queer new
pupil before they heard the lunch-bell ring and were
obliged to go down-stairs.
Sara sat upon the hearth-rug and told her strange things.
She sat rather huddled up, and her green eyes shone and
her cheeks flushed. She told stories of the voyage, and
stories of India; but what fascinated Ermengarde the
most was her fancy about the dolls who walked and talked,
and who could do anything they chose when the human
beings were out of the room, but w^ho must keep their pow-
ers a secret and so flew back to their places " like lightning "
when people returned to the room.
" We could n't do it," said Sara, seriously. " You see,
it 's a kind of magic."
Once, when she was relating the story of the search for
Emily, Ermengarde saw her face suddenly change. A
cloud seemed to pass over it and put out the light in her
shining eyes. She drew her breath in so sharply that it
made a funny, sad little sound, and then she shut her lips
and held them tightly closed, as if she was determined
either to do or not to do something. Ermengarde had an
idea that if she had been like any other little girl, she might
have suddenly burst out sobbing and crying. But she did
" Have you a — a pain? " Ermengarde ventured.
" Yes," Sara answered, after a moment's silence. " But
it is not in my body." Then she added something in
a low voice which she tried to keep quite steady, and it was
this: " Do you love your father more than anything else in
all the whole world? "
Ermengarde's mouth fell open a little. She knew that
32 A LITTLE PRINCESS
it would be far from behaving like a respectable child at a
select seminary to say that it had never occurred to you
that you could love your father, that you would do any-
thing desperate to avoid being left alone in his society for
ten minutes. She was, indeed, greatly embarrassed.
"I — I scarcely ever see him," she stammered. "He is
always in the library — reading things."
" I love mine more than all the world ten times over,"
Sara said. " That is what my pain is. He has gone away."
She put her head quietly down on her little, huddled-up
knees, and sat very still for a few minutes.
" She 's going to cry out loud," thought Ermengarde,
But she did not. Her short, black locks tumbled about
her ears, and she sat still. Then she spoke without lifting
" I promised him I would bear it," she said. " And I
will. You have to bear things. Think what soldiers bear !
Papa is a soldier. If there was a war he would have to bear
marching and thirstiness and, perhaps, deep wounds. And
he would never say a word— not one word."
Ermengarde could only gaze at her, but she felt that she
was beginning to adore her. She was so wonderful and
different from any one else.
Presently, she lifted her face and shook back her black
locks, with a queer httle smile.
" If I go on talking and talking," she said, " and telling
you things about pretending, I shall bear it better. You
don't forget, but you bear it better."
Ermengarde did not know why a lump came into her
throat and her eyes felt as if tears were in them.
" Lavinia and Jessie are ' best friends,' " she said rather
huskily. " I wish we could be ' best friends.' Would you
have me for yours ? You 're clever, and I 'm the stupidest
child in the school, but I — oh, I do so like you!"
" I 'm glad of that," said Sara. " It makes you thank-
ful when you are liked. Yes. We will be friends. And
I'll tell you what" — a sudden gleam lighting her face —
" I can help you with your French lessons."
IF Sara had been a different kind of child, the life she
led at Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for the next
ten years would not have been at all good for her.
She was treated more as if she were a distinguished guest at
the establishment than as if she were a mere little girl. If
she had been a self-opinionated, domineering child, she
might have become disagreeable enough to be unbearable
through being so much indulged and flattered. If she had
been an indolent child, she would have learned nothing.
Privately Miss Minchin disliked her, but she was far too
worldly a woman to do or say anything which might make
such a desirable pupil wish to leave her school. She knew
quite well that if Sara wrote to her papa to tell him she was
uncomfortable or unhappy. Captain Crewe would remove
her at once. Miss Minchin's opinion was that if a child
were continually praised and never forbidden to do what
she liked, she would be sure to be fond of the place where
she was so treated. Accordingly, Sara was praised for her
quickness at her lessons, for her good manners, for her ami-
ability to her fellow-pupils, for her generosity if she gave
sixpence to a beggar out of her full little purse ; the sim-
plest thing she did was treated as if it were a virtue, and if
she had not had a disposition and a clever httle brain, she
might have been a very self-satisfied young person. But
the clever little brain told her a great many sensible and
true things about herself and her circumstances, and now
and then she talked these things over to Ermengarde as
time went on.
" Things happen to people by accident," she used to say.
"A lot of nice accidents have happened to me. It just
happened that I always liked lessons and books, and could
remember things when I learned them. It just happened
that I was born with a father who was beautiful and nice
and clever, and could give me everything I liked. Perhaps
I have not really a good temper at all, but if you have
everything you want and every one is kind to you, how can
you help but be good-tempered? I don't know " — looking
quite serious — "how I shall ever find out whether I am
really a nice child or a horrid one. Perhaps I 'm a hideous
child, and no one will ever know, just because I never have
" Lavinia has no trials," said Ermengarde, stolidly, " and
she is horrid enough."
Sara i*ubbed the end of her little nose reflectively, as she
thought the matter over.
" Well," she said at last, " perhaps— perhaps that is be-
cause Lavinia is growing"
This was the result of a charitable recollection of having
heard Miss Amelia say that Lavinia was growing so fast
that she believed it afl'ected her health and temper.
36 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Lavinia, in fact, was spiteful. She was inordinately
jealous of Sara. Until the new pupil's arrival, she had felt
herself the leader in the school. She had led because she
was capable of making herself extremely disagreeable if
the others did not follow her. She domineered over the lit-
tle children, and assumed grand airs with those big enough
to be her companions. She was rather pretty, and had
been the best-dressed pupil in the procession when the
Select Seminary walked out two by two, until Sara's velvet
coats and sable muffs appeared, combined with drooping
ostrich feathers, and were led by Miss Minchin at the head
of the line. This, at the beginning, had been bitter enough ;
but as time went on it became apparent that Sara was a
leader, too, and not because she could make herself disa-
greeable, but because she never did.
" There 's one thing about Sara Crewe," Jessie had en-
raged her " best friend " by saying honestly,—" she 's never
' grand ' about herself the least bit, and you know she might
be, Lavvie. I believe I couldn't help being — just a little
—if I had so many fine things and was made such a fuss
over. It 's disgusting, the way Miss Minchin shows her off
when parents come."
" ' Dear Sara must come into the drawing-room and talk
to Mrs. Musgrave about India,' " mimicked Lavinia, in her
most highly flavored imitation of Miss Minchin. " ' Dear
Sara must speak French to Lady Pitkin. Her accent is so
perfect.' She did n't learn her French at the Seminary, at
any rate. And there 's nothing so clever in her knowing it.
She says herself she did n't learn it at all. She just picked
it up, because she always heard her papa speak it. And, as
to her papa, there is nothing so grand in being an Indian
"Well," said Jessie, slowly, "he's killed tigers. He
killed the one in the skin Sara has in her room. That 's why
she likes it so. She Hes on it and strokes its head, and talks
to it as if it was a cat."
" She 's always doing something silly," snapped La-
vinia. " My mamma says that way of hers of pretending
things is silly. She says she will grow up eccentric."
It was quite true that Sara was never " grand." She was
a friendly little soul, and shared her privileges and belong-
ings with a free hand. The little ones, who were accus-
tomed to being disdained and ordered out of the way by
mature ladies aged ten and twelve, were never made to
cry by this most envied of them all. She was a motherly
young person, and when people fell down and scraped their
knees, she ran and helped them up and patted them, or
found in her pocket a bonbon or some other article of a
soothing nature. She never pushed them out of her way
or alluded to their years as a humiliation and a blot upon
their small characters.
" If you are four you are four," she said severely to La-
vinia on an occasion of her having — it must be confessed —
slapped Lottie and called her "a brat"; "but you will be
five next year, and six the year after that. And," opening
large, convicting eyes, " it only takes sixteen years to make
" Dear me ! " said Lavinia ; " how we can calculate ! " In
38 A LITTLE PRINCESS
fact, it was not to be denied that sixteen and four made
twenty,— and twenty was an age the most daring were
scarcely bold enough to dream of.
So the younger children adored Sara. More than once
she had been known to have a tea-party, made up of these
despised ones, in her own room. And Emily had been
played with, and Emily's own tea-service used— the one
with cups which held quite a lot of much-sweetened weak
tea and had blue flowers on them. No one had seen such
a very real doll's tea-set before. From that afternoon Sara
was regarded as a goddess and a queen by the entire alpha-
Lottie Legh worshipped her to such an extent that if
Sara had not been a motherly person, she would have found
her tiresome. Lottie had been sent to school by a rather
flighty young papa who could not imagine what else to do
with her. Her young mother had died, and as the child had
been treated like a favorite doll or a very spoiled pet mon-
key or lap-dog ever since the first hour of her life, she was a
very appalling little creature. When she wanted anything
or did not want anything she wept and howled ; and, as she
always wanted the things she could not have, and did not
want the things that were best for her, her shrill little voice
was usually to be heard uplifted in wails in one part of the
house or another.
Her strongest weapon was that in some mysterious way
she had found out that a very small girl who had lost her
mother was a person who ought to be pitied and made
much of. She had probably heard some grown-up people
More than once she had l)een known to have a tea-party
talking her over in the early days, after her mother's
death. So it became her habit to make great use of this
The first time Sara took her in charge was one morning
when, on passing a sitting-room, she heard both Miss Min-
chin and INIiss Amelia trying to suppress the angry wails
of some child who, evidently, refused to be silenced. She
refused so strenuously indeed that Miss Minchin was
obliged to almost shout— in a stately and severe manner—
to make herself heard.
"What is she crying for?" she almost yelled.
" Oh— oh— oh ! " Sara heard ; " I have n't got any mam—
"Oh, Lottie!" screamed Miss Amelia. "Do stop, dar-
ling ! Don't cry ! Please don't ! "
" Oh ! oh ! oh ! " Lottie howled tempestuously. " Have n't
— got — any — mam — ma-a ! "
" She ought to be whipped," Miss ^linchin proclaimed.
"You shall be whipped, you naughty child!"
Lottie wailed more loudly than ever. Miss Amelia be-
gan to cry. Miss Minchin's voice rose until it almost thun-
dered, then suddenly she sprang up from her chair in impo-
tent indignation and flounced out of the room, leaving Miss
Amelia to arrange the matter.
Sara had paused in the hall, wondering if she ought to
go into the room, because she had recently begun a friendly
acquaintance with Lottie and might be able to quiet her.
When Miss Minchin came out and saw her, she looked
rather annoyed. She realized that her voice, as heard from
40 A LITTLE TRINCESS
inside the room, could not have sounded either dignified or
"Oh, Sara!" she exclaimed, endeavoring to produce a
" I stopped," explained Sara, " because I knew it was
Lottie,— and I thought, perhaps— just perhaps, I could
make her be quiet. INIay I try. Miss Minchin? "
" If you can. You are a clever child," answered Miss
Minchin, drawing in her mouth sharply. Then, seeing that
Sara looked slightly chilled by her asperity, she changed
her manner. " But you are clever in everything," she said
in her approving way. " I dare say you can manage her.
Go in." And she left her.
When Sara entered the room, Lottie was lying upon the
floor, screaming and kicking her small fat legs violently,
and JNIiss Amelia was bending over her in consternation
and despair, looking quite red and damp with heat. Lottie
had always found, when in her own nursery at home, that
kicking and screaming would always be quieted by any
means she insisted on. Poor plump Miss Amelia was try-
ing first one method, and then another.
"Poor darling!" she said one moment; "I know you
have n't any mamma, poor—" Then in quite another tone :
" If you don't stop, Lottie, I will shake you. Poor little
angel! There— there! You wicked, bad, detestable child,
I will smack you! I will!"
Sara went to them quietly. She did not know at all what
she was going to do, but she had a vague inward conviction
that it would be better not to say such different kinds of
things quite so helplessly and excitedly.
" Miss Amelia," she said in a low voice, " Miss Minchin
says I may try to make her stop — may I?"
Miss Amelia turned and looked at her hopelessly. " Oh,
do you think you can? " she gasped.
" I don't know whether I can," answered Sara, still in
her half -whisper ; "but I will try."
Miss Amelia stumbled up from her knees with a heavy
sigh, and Lottie's fat little legs kicked as hard as ever.
" If you will steal out of the room," said Sara, " I will
stay with her."
"Oh, Sara!" almost whimpered Miss Amelia. "We
never had such a dreadful child before. I don't believe we
can keep her."
But she crept out of the room, and was very much re-
lieved to find an excuse for doing it.
Sara stood by the howling, furious child for a few mo-
ments, and looked down at her without saying anything.
Then she sat down flat on the floor beside her and waited.
Except for Lottie's angry screams, the room was quite
quiet. This was a new state of aff^airs for little Miss Legh,
who was accustomed, when she screamed, to hear other peo-
ple protest and implore and command and coax by turns.
To lie and kick and shriek, and find the only person near
you not seeming to mind in the least, attracted her atten-
tion. She opened her tight-shut streaming eyes to see who
this person was. And it was only another little girl. But
it was the one who owned Emily and all the nice things.
And she was looking at her steadily and as if she was
merely thinking. Having paused for a few seconds to find
this out, Lottie thought she must begin again, but the quiet
42 A LITTLE PRINCESS
of the room and of Sara's odd, interested face made her
first howl rather half-hearted.
"I— have n't— any— ma— ma— ma-a!" she announced;
but her voice was not so strong.
Sara looked at her still more steadily, but with a sort of
understanding in her eyes.
" Neither have I," she said.
This was so unexpected that it was astounding. Lottie
actually dropped her legs, gave a wriggle, and lay and
stared. A new idea will stop a crying child when nothing
else will. Also it was true that while Lottie disliked Miss
Minchin, who was cross, and Miss Amelia, who was fool-
ishly indulgent, she rather liked Sara, little as she knew her.
She did not want to give up her grievance, but her thoughts
were distracted from it, so she wriggled again, and, after a
sulky sob, said :
"Where is she?"
Sara paused a moment. Because she had been told that
her mamma was in heaven, she had thought a great deal
about the matter, and her thoughts had not been quite like
those of other people.
" She went to heaven," she said. " But I am sure she
comes out sometimes to see me — though I don't see her.
So does yours. Perhaps they can both see us now. Per-
haps they are both in this room."
Lottie sat bolt upright, and looked about her. She
was a pretty, little, curly-headed creature, and her round
eyes were like wet forget-me-nots. If her mamma had
seen her during the last half -hour, she might not have
thought her the kind of child who ought to be related to
Sara went on talking. Perhaps some people might think
that what she said was rather like a fairy story, but it was
all so real to her own imagination that Lottie began to lis-
ten in spite of herself. She had been told that her mamma
had wings and a crown, and she had been shown pictures of
ladies in beautiful white night-gowns, who were said to be
angels. But Sara seemed to be telling a real story about a
lovely country where real people were.
" There are fields and fields of flowers," she said, forget-
ting herself, as usual, when she began, and talking rather
as if she were in a dream—" fields and fields of lilies— and
when the soft wind blows over them it wafts the scent of
them into the air— and everybody always breathes it, be-
cause the soft wind is always blowing. And little children
run about in the hly-fields and gather armsful of them,
and laugh and make little wreaths. And the streets are
shining. And no one is ever tired, however far they walk.
They can float anywhere they like. And there are walls
made of pearl and gold all round the city, but they are low
enough for the people to go and lean on them, and look
down on to the earth and smile, and send beautiful mes-
Whatsoever story she had begun to tell, Lottie would, no
doubt, have stopped crying, and been fascinated into listen-
ing; but there was no denying that this story was prettier
than most others. She dragged herself close to Sara, and
drank in every word until the end came— far too soon.
44 A LITTLE PRINCESS
When it did come, she was so sorry that she put up her lip
"I want to go there," she cried. "I— have n't any
mamma in this school."
Sara saw the danger-signal, and came out of her dream.
She took hold of the chubby hand and pulled her close to
her side with a coaxing little laugh.
" I will be your mamma," she said. " We will play that
you are my little girl. And Emily shall be your sister."
Lottie's dimples all began to show themselves.
"Shall she? "she said.
" Yes," answered Sara, jumping to her feet. " Let us
go and tell her. And then I will wash your face and brush
To which Lottie agreed quite cheerfully, and trotted out
of the room and up-stairs with her, without seeming even
to remember that the whole of the last hour's tragedy had
been caused by the fact that she had refused to be washed
and brushed for lunch and Miss Minchin had been called
in to use her majestic authority.
And from that time Sara was an adopted mother.
OF course the greatest power Sara possessed and the
I one which gained her even more followers than
her luxuries and the fact that she was " the show
pupil," the power that Lavinia and certain other girls
were most envious of, and at the same time most fascinated
by in spite of themselves, was her power of telling stories
and of making everything she talked about seem like a
story, whether it was one or not.
Any one who has been at school with a teller of stories
knows what the wonder means — how he or she is followed
about and besought in a whisper to relate romances; how
groups gather round and hang on the outskirts of the fa-
vored party in the hope of being allowed to join it and
hsten. Sara not only could tell stories, but she adored tell-
ing them. When she sat or stood in the midst of a circle
and began to invent wonderful things, her green eyes grew
big and shining, her cheeks flushed, and, without knowing
that she was doing it, she began to act and made what she
told lovely or alarming by the raising or dropping of her
voice, the bend and sway of her slim body, and the dramatic
movement of her hands. She forgot that she was talking
46 A LITTLE PRINCESS
to listening children ; she saw and lived with the fairy folk,
or the kings and queens and beautiful ladies, whose adven-
tures she was narrating. Sometimes when she had finished
her story, she was quite out of breath with excitement, and
would lay her hand on her thin, little, quick-rising chest,
and half laugh as if at herself.
" When I am telling it," she would say, " it does n't seem
as if it was only made up. It seems more real than you
are— more real than the school-room. I feel as if I were
all the people in the story — one after the other. It is
She had been at Miss Minchin's school about two years
when, one foggy winter's afternoon, as she was getting
out of her carriage, comfortably wrapped up in her warm-
est velvets and furs and looking very much grander than
she knew, she caught sight, as she crossed the pavement,
of a dingy little figure standing on the area steps, and
stretching its neck so that its wide-open eyes might peer at
her through the raihngs. Something in the eagerness and
timidity of the smudgy face made her look at it, and when
she looked she smiled because it was her way to smile at
But the owner of the smudgy face and the wide-open
eyes evidently was afraid that she ought not to have been
caught looking at pupils of importance. She dodged out
of sight like a Jack-in-the-box and scurried back into the
kitchen, disappearing so suddenly that if she had not been
such a poor, little forlorn thing, Sara would have laughed
in spite of herself. That very evening, as Sara was sitting
When she sat in tlie midst of a circle and began to invent wonderful things
in the midst of a group of listeners in a corner of the school-
room telling one of her stories, the very same figure tim-
idly entered the room, carrying a coal-box much too heavy
for her, and knelt down upon the hearth-rug to replenish
the fire and sweep up the ashes.
She was cleaner than she had been when she peeped
through the area railings, but she looked just as frightened.
She was evidently afraid to look at the children or seem to
be listening. She put on pieces of coal cautiously with her
fingers so that she might make no disturbing noise, and
she swept about the fire-irons very softly. But Sara saw
in two minutes that she was deeply interested in what was
going on, and that she was doing her work slowly in the
hope of catching a word here and there. And realizing
this, she raised her voice and spoke more clearly.
" The Mermaids swam softly about in the crystal-green
water, and dragged after them a fishing-net woven of deep-
sea pearls," she said. " The Princess sat on the white rock
and watched them."
It was a wonderful story about a princess who was loved
by a Prince Merman, and went to live with him in shining
caves under the sea.
The small drudge before the grate swept the hearth once
and then swept it again. Having done it twice, she did it
three times; and, as she was doing it the third time, the
sound of the story so lured her to listen that she fell under
the spell and actually forgot that she had no right to listen
at all, and also forgot everything else. She sat down upon
her heels as she knelt on the hearth-rug, and the brush hung
48 A LITTLE PRINCESS
idly in her fingers. The voice of the story-teller went on
and drew her with it into winding grottos under the sea,
glowing with soft, clear blue light, and paved with pure
golden sands. Strange sea flowers and grasses waved
about her, and far away faint singing and music echoed.
The hearth-brush fell from the work-roughened hand,
and Lavinia Herbert looked round.
" That girl has been listening," she said.
The culprit snatched up her brush, and scrambled to her
feet. She caught at the coal-box and simply scuttled out
of the room like a frightened rabbit.
Sara felt rather hot-tempered.
" I knew she was listening," she said. " Why shouldn't
Lavinia tossed her head with great elegance.
" Well," she remarked, " I do not know whether your
mamma would hke you to tell stories to servant girls, but I
know 7ny mamma would n't like me to do it."
"My mamma!" said Sara, looking odd. "I don't be-
lieve she would mind in the least. She knows that stories
belong to everybody."
" I thought," retorted Lavinia, in severe recollection,
"that your mamma was dead. How can she know things?"
" Do you think she does 71 1 know things? " said Sara, in
her stern little voice. Sometimes she had a rather stern
" Sara's mamma knows everything," piped in Lottie.
" So does my mamma — 'cept Sara is my mamma at Miss
^linchin's— my other one knows everything. The streets
are shining, and there are fields and fields of lilies, and
everybody gathers them. Sara tells me when she puts me
"You wicked thing," said Lavinia, turning on Sara;
" making fairy stories about heaven."
" There are much more splendid stories in Revelation,"
returned Sara. "Just look and see! How do you know
mine are fairy stories? But I can tell you " — with a fine bit
of unheavenly temper— "you will never find out whether
they are or not if you 're not kinder to people than you are
now. Come along, Lottie." And she marched out of the
room, rather hoping that she might see the little servant
again somewhere, but she found no trace of her when she
got into the hall.
" Who is that little girl who makes the fires? " she asked
Mariette that night.
Mariette broke forth into a flow of description.
Ah, indeed. Mademoiselle Sara might well ask. She
was a forlorn little thing who had just taken the place of
scullery-maid— though, as to being scullery -maid, she was
everything else besides. She blacked boots and grates, and
carried heavy coal-scuttles up and down stairs, and
scrubbed floors and cleaned windows, and was ordered
about by everybody. She was fourteen years old, but was
so stunted in growth that she looked about twelve. In
truth, Mariette was sorry for her. She was so timid that
if one chanced to speak to her it appeared as if her poor,
frightened eyes would jump out of her head.
"What is her name?" asked Sara, who had sat by the
50 A LITTLE PRINCESS
table, with her chin on her hands, as she Hstened absorbedly
to the recital.
Her name was Becky. Mariette heard every one below-
stairs calling, " Becky, do this," and " Becky, do that,"
every five minutes in the day.
Sara sat and looked into the fire, reflecting on Becky for
some time after Mariette left her. She made up a story
of which Becky was the ill-used heroine. She thought she
looked as if she had never had quite enough to eat. Her
very eyes were hungry. She hoped she should see her
again, but though she caught sight of her carrying things
up or down stairs on several occasions, she always seemed in
such a hurry and so afraid of being seen that it was impos-
sible to speak to her.
But a few weeks later, on another foggy afternoon,
when she entered her sitting-room she found herself con-
fronting a rather pathetic picture. In her own special
and pet easy-chair before the bright fire, Becky— with a
coal smudge on her nose and several on her apron, with
her poor little cap hanging half off her head, and an
empty coal-box on the floor near her — sat fast asleep, tired
out beyond even the endurance of her hard-working young
body. She had been sent up to put the bedrooms in order
for the evening. There were a great many of them, and
she had been running about all day. Sara's rooms she had
saved until the last. They were not like the other rooms,
which were plain and bare. Ordinary pupils were expected
to be satisfied with mere necessaries, Sara's comfortable
sitting-room seemed a bower of luxury to the scullery-maid,
though it was, in fact, merely a nice, bright httle room.
But there were pictures and books in it, and curious things
from India ; there was a sofa and the low, soft chair ; Emily
sat in a chair of her own, with the air of a presiding god-
dess, and there was always a glowing fire and a polished
grate. Becky saved it until the end of her afternoon's
work, because it rested her to go into it, and she always
hoped to snatch a few minutes to sit down in the soft chair
and look about her, and think about the wonderful good
fortune of the child who owned such surroundings and who
went out on the cold days in beautiful hats and coats one
tried to catch a glimpse of through the area railing.
On this afternoon, when she had sat down, the sensation
of relief to her short, aching legs had been so wonderful
and delightful that it had seemed to soothe her whole body,
and the glow of warmth and comfort from the fire had
crept over her like a spell, until, as she looked at the red
coals, a tired, slow smile stole over her smudged face, her
head nodded forward without her being aware of it, her
eyes drooped, and she fell fast asleep. She had really been
only about ten minutes in the room when Sara entered, but
she was in as deep a sleep as if she had been, like the Sleep-
ing Beauty, slumbering for a hundred years. But she did
not look— poor Becky!— like a Sleeping Beauty at all.
She looked only like an ugly, stunted, worn-out little scul-
Sara seemed as much unlike her as if she were a creature
from another world.
On this particular afternoon she had been taking her
52 A LITTLE PRINCESS
dancing-lesson, and the afternoon on which the dancing-
master appeared was rather a grand occasion at the semi-
nary, though it occurred every week. The pupils were
attired in their prettiest frocks, and as Sara danced
particularly well, she was very much brought forward, and
Mariette was requested to make her as diaphanous and fine
To-day a frock the color of a rose had been put on her,
and Mariette had bought some real buds and made her a
wreath to wear on her black locks. She had been learning
a new, delightful dance in which she had been skimming
and flying about the room, like a large rose-colored butter-
fly, and the enjoyment and exercise had brought a brilliant,
happy glow into her face.
When she entered the room, she floated in with a few
of the butterfly steps,— and there sat Becky, nodding her
cap sideways ofl" her head.
"Oh!" cried Sara, softly, when she saw her. "That
It did not occur to her to feel cross at finding her pet
chair occupied by the small, dingy figure. To tell the
truth, she was quite glad to find it there. When the ill-
used heroine of her story wakened, she could talk to her.
She crept toward her quietly, and stood looking at her.
Becky gave a little snore.
" I wish she 'd waken herself," Sara said. " I don't like
to waken her. But Miss Minchin would be cross if she
found out. I '11 just wait a few minutes."
She took a seat on the edge of the table, and sat swing-
ing her slim, rose-colored legs, and wondering what it
would be best to do. IVIiss Amelia might come in at any
moment, and if she did, Becky would be sure to be scolded.
"But she is so tired," she thought. " She is so tired!"
A piece of flaming coal ended her perplexity for her that
very moment. It broke off from a large lump and fell on
to the fender. Becky started, and opened her eyes with a
frightened gasp. She did not know she had fallen asleep.
She had only sat down for one moment and felt the beau-
tiful glow— and here she found herself staring in wild
alarm at the wonderful pupil, who sat perched quite near
her, like a rose-colored fairy, with interested eyes.
She sprang up and clutched at her cap. She felt it
danghng over her ear, and tried wildly to put it straight.
Oh, she had got herself into trouble now with a vengeance !
To have impudently fallen asleep on such a young lady's
chair! She would be turned out of doors without wages.
She made a sound like a big breathless sob.
" Oh, miss! Oh, miss! " she stuttered. " I arst yer par-
don, miss! Oh, I do, miss!"
Sara jumped down, and came quite close to her.
" Don't be frightened," she said, quite as if she had been
speaking to a little girl like herself. " It does n't matter
the least bit."
" I did n't go to do it, miss," protested Becky. " It was
the warm fire— an' me bein' so tired. It— it wasn't im-
perence ! "
Sara broke into a friendly little laugh, and put her hand
on her shoulder.
54 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" You were tired," she said ; " you could not help it. You
are not really awake yet."
How poor Becky stared at her! In fact, she had never
heard such a nice, friendly sound in any one's voice before.
She was used to being ordered about and scolded, and hav-
ing her ears boxed. And this one— in her rose-colored
dancing afternoon splendor— was looking at her as if she
were not a culprit at all— as if she had a right to be tired—
even to fall asleep! The touch of the soft, slim little paw
on her shoulder was the most amazing thing she had ever
"Ain't — ain't yer angry, miss?" she gasped. "Ain't
yer goin' to tell the missus?"
" No," cried out Sara. " Of course I 'm not."
The wof ul fright in the coal-smutted face made her sud-
denly so sorry that she could scarcely bear it. One of her
queer thoughts rushed into her mind. She put her hand
against Becky's cheek.
"Why," she said, "we are just the same— I am only a
little girl like you. It 's just an accident that I am not
you, and you are not me ! "
Becky did not understand in the least. Her mind could
not grasp such amazing thoughts, and " an accident "
meant to her a calamity in which some one was run over
or fell off a ladder and was carried to " the 'orspital."
" A' accident, miss," she fluttered respectfully. " Is it? "
" Yes," Sara answered, and she looked at her dreamily
for a moment. But the next she spoke in a different tone.
She realized that Becky did not know what she meant.
"Have you done your work?" she asked. "Dare you
stay here a few minutes? "
Becky lost her breath again,
"Here, miss? Me?"
Sara ran to the door, opened it, and looked out and lis-
" No one is anywhere about," she explained. " If your
bedrooms are finished, perhaps you might stay a tiny while.
I thought — perhaps — you might like a piece of cake."
The next ten minutes seemed to Becky like a sort of
delirium. Sara opened a cupboard, and gave her a thick
slice of cake. She seemed to rejoice when it was devoured
in hungry bites. She talked and asked questions, and
laughed until Becky's fears actually began to calm them-
selves, and she once or twice gathered boldness enough to
ask a question or so herself, daring as she felt it to be.
" Is that—" she ventured, looking longingly at the rose-
colored frock. And she asked it almost in a whisper. " Is
that there your best? "
" It is one of my dancing-frocks," answered Sara. " I
like it, don't you?"
For a few seconds Becky was almost speechless with ad-
miration. Then she said in an awed voice:
" Onct I see a princess. I was standin' in the street with
the crowd outside Covin' Garden, watchin' the swells go
inter the operer. An' there was one every one stared at
most. They ses to each other, ' That 's the princess.' She
was a gro wed-up young lady, but she was pink all over—
gownd an' cloak, an' flowers an' all. I called her to mind
5Q A LITTLE PRINCESS
the minnit I see you, sittin' there on the table, miss. You
looked like her."
" I 've often thought," said Sara, in her reflecting voice,
" that I should like to be a princess ; I wonder what it feels
like. I believe I will begin pretending I am one."
Becky stared at her admiringly, and, as before, did not
understand her in the least. She watched her with a sort of
adoration. Very soon Sara left her reflections and turned
to her with a new question.
" Becky," she said, " were n't you listening to that
" Yes, miss," confessed Becky, a little alarmed again.
"I knowed I hadn't orter, but it was that beautiful I— I
could n't help it."
" I liked you to listen to it," said Sara. " If you tell
stories, you like nothing so much as to tell them to people
who want to listen. I don't know why it is. Would you
like to hear the rest? "
Becky lost her breath again.
"Me hear it?" she cried. "Like as if I was a pupil,
miss! All about the Prince— and the little white Mer-
babies swimming about laughing— with stars in their
" You have n't time to hear it now, I 'm afraid," she said;
" but if you will tell me just what time you come to do my
rooms, I will try to be here and tell you a bit of it every day
until it is finished. It 's a lovely long one— and I 'm always
putting new bits to it."
" Then," breathed Becky, devoutly, " I would n't mind
how heavy the coal-boxes was — or xvhat the cook done to
me, if — if I might have that to think of."
" You may," said Sara. " I '11 tell it all to you."
When Becky went down-stairs, she was not the same
Becky who had staggered up, loaded down by the weight
of the coal-scuttle. She had an extra piece of cake in her
pocket, and she had been fed and warmed, but not only by
cake and fire. Something else had warmed and fed her,
and the something else was Sara.
When she was gone Sara sat on her favorite perch on
the end of her table. Her feet were on a chair, her elbows
on her knees, and her chin in her hands.
" If I was a princess— a real princess," she murmured,
" I could scatter largess to the populace. But even if I
am only a pretend princess, I can invent little things to do
for people. Things like this. She was just as happy as
if it was largess. I '11 pretend that to do things people like
is scattering largess. I 've scattered largess.'*
NOT very long after this a very exciting thing hap-
pened. Not only Sara, but the entire school,
found it exciting, and made it the chief subject
of conversation for weeks after it occurred. In one of his
letters Captain Crewe told a most interesting story. A
friend who had been at school with him when he was a boy
had unexpectedly come to see him in India. He was the
owner of a large tract of land upon which diamonds had
been found, and he was engaged in developing the mines.
If all went as was confidently expected, he would become
possessed of such wealth as it made one dizzy to think of ;
and because he was fond of the friend of his school-days,
he had given him an opportunity to share in this enormous
fortune by becoming a partner in his scheme. This, at
least, was what Sara gathered from his letters. It is true
that any other business scheme, however magnificent, would
have had but small attraction for her or for the school-
room; but " diamond-mines " sounded so like the " Arabian
Nights " that no one could be indifferent. Sara thought
them enchanting, and painted pictures, for Ermengarde
and Lottie, of labyrinthine passages in the bowels of the
THE DIAMOND-MINES 59
earth, where sparkhng stones studded the walls and roofs
and ceilings, and strange, dark men dug them out with
heavy picks. Ermengarde delighted in the story, and
Lottie insisted on its being retold to her every evening.
Lavinia was very spiteful about it, and told Jessie
that she did n't believe such things as diamond-mines
"My mamma has a diamond ring which cost forty
pounds," she said. "And it is not a big one, either. If
there were mines full of diamonds, people would be so rich
it would be ridiculous."
" Perhaps Sara will be so rich that she will be ridiculous,"
" She 's ridiculous without being rich," Lavinia sniffed.
" I believe you hate her," said Jessie.
" No, I don't," snapped Lavinia. " But I don't beheve
in mines full of diamonds."
" Well, people have to get them from somewhere," said
Jessie. " Lavinia,"— with a new giggle,— "what do you
think Gertrude says?"
" I don't know, I 'm sure; and I don't care if it 's some-
thing more about that everlasting Sara."
" Well, it is. One of her ' pretends ' is that she is a
princess. She plays it all the time— even in school. She
says it makes her learn her lessons better. She wants Er-
mengarde to be one, too, but Ermengarde says she is too
" She is too fat," said Lavinia. " And Sara is too thin."
Naturally, Jessie giggled again.
60 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" She says it has nothing to do with what you look like,
or what you have. It has only to do with what you think
of, and what you do/'
" I suppose she thinks she could be a princess if she was
a beggar," said Lavinia. " Let us begin to call her Your
Lessons for the day were over, and they were sitting
before the school-room fire, enjoying the time they liked
best. It was the time when Miss Minchin and Miss Amelia
were taking their tea in the sitting-room sacred to them-
selves. At this hour a great deal of talking was done, and
a great many secrets changed hands, particularly if the
younger pupils behaved themselves well, and did not
squabble or run about noisily, which it must be confessed
they usually did. When they made an uproar the older
girls usually interfered with scoldings and shakes. They
were expected to keep order, and there was danger that
if they did not. Miss Minchin or Miss Ameha would
appear and put an end to festivities. Even as Lavinia
spoke the door opened and Sara entered with Lottie,
whose habit was to trot everywhere after her like a lit-
"There she is, with that horrid child!" exclaimed La-
vinia, in a whisper. " If she 's so fond of her, why does n't
she keep her in her own room? She will begin howling
about something in five minutes."
It happened that Lottie had been seized with a sudden
desire to play in the school-room, and had begged her
adopted parent to come with her. She joined a group of
THE DIAMOND-MINES 61
little ones who were playing in a corner. Sara curled her-
self up in the window-seat, opened a book, and began to
read. It was a book about the French Revolution, and
she was soon lost in a harrowing picture of the prisoners
in the Bastille — men who had spent so many years in
dungeons that when they were dragged out by those
who rescued them, their long, gray hair and beards
almost hid their faces, and they had forgotten that an
outside world existed at all, and were like beings in a
She was so far away from the school-room that it was
not agreeable to be dragged back suddenly by a howl
from Lottie. Never did she find anything so difficult as
to keep herself from losing her temper when she was sud-
denly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who
are fond of books know the feehng of irritation which
sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation
to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to
" It makes me feel as if some one had hit me," Sara had
told Ermengarde once in confidence. " And as if I want
to hit back. I have to remember things quickly to keep
from saying something ill-tempered."
She had to remember things quickly when she laid her
book on the window-seat and jumped down from her
Lottie had been sliding across the school-room floor, and,
having first irritated Lavinia and Jessie by making a noise,
had ended by falling down and hurting her fat knee. She
62 A LITTLE PRINCESS
was screaming and dancing up and down in the midst of a
group of friends and enemies, who were alternately coax-
ing and scolding her.
" Stop this minute, you cry-baby! Stop this minute!"
" I 'm not a cry-baby— I 'm not ! " wailed Lottie. " Sara,
" If she does n't stop. Miss Minchin will hear her," cried
Jessie. " Lottie darling, I 'U give you a penny! "
"I don't want your penny," sobbed Lottie; and she
looked down at the fat knee, and, seeing a drop of blood on
it, burst forth again.
Sara flew across the room and, kneeling down, put her
arms round her.
" Now, Lottie," she said. " Now, Lottie, you promised
" She said I was a cry-baby," wept Lottie.
Sara patted her, but spoke in the steady voice Lottie
" But if you cry, you will be one, Lottie pet. You prom-
Lottie remembered that she had promised, but she pre-
ferred to lift up her voice.
" I have n't any mamma," she proclaimed. " I haven't
—a bit— of mamma."
" Yes, you have," said Sara, cheerfully. " Have you for-
gotten? Don't you know that Sara is your mamma?
Don't you want Sara for your mamma? "
Lottie cuddled up to her with a consoled sniff.
THE DIAMOND-MINES 63
*' Come and sit in the window-seat with me," Sara went
on, " and I '11 whisper a story to you."
"Will you?" whimpered Lottie. "Will you— tell me
—about the diamond-mines?"
"The diamond-mines?" broke out Lavinia. "Nasty,
little spoiled thing, I should like to slap her!"
Sara got up quickly on her feet. It must be remembered
that she had been very deeply absorbed in the book about
the Bastille, and she had had to recall several things rapidly
when she realized that she must go and take care of her
adopted child. She was not an angel, and she was not fond
" Well," she said, with some fire, " I should like to slap
you,— hut 1 don't want to slap you!" restraining herself.
"At least I both want to slap you— and I should like to
slap you,— but I wont slap you. We are not little gutter
children. We are both old enough to know better."
Here was Lavinia's opportunit}^
"Ah, yes, your royal highness," she said. "We are
princesses, I believe. At least one of us is. The school
ought to be very fashionable now JNIiss Minchin has a
princess for a pupil."
Sara started toward her. She looked as if she were going
to box her ears. Perhaps she was. Her trick of pretend-
ing things was the joy of her life. She never spoke of it
to girls she was not fond of. Her new " pretend " about
being a princess was very near to her heart, and she was
shy and sensitive about it. She had meant it to be rather a
secret, and here was Lavinia deriding it before nearly all
64 A LITTLE PRINCESS
the school. She felt the blood rush up into her face and
tingle in her ears. She only just saved herself. If you
were a princess, you did not fly into rages. Her hand
dropped, and she stood quite still a moment. When she
spoke it was in a quiet, steady voice ; she held her head up,
and everybody listened to her.
" It 's true," she said. " Sometimes I do pretend I am a
princess. I pretend I am a princess, so that I can try and
behave like one."
Lavinia could not think of exactly the right thing to say.
Several times she had found that she could not think of a
satisfactory reply when she was dealing with Sara. The
reason of this was that, somehow, the rest always seemed to
be vaguely in sympathy with her opponent. She saw now
that they were pricking up their ears interestedly. The
truth was, they liked princesses, and they all hoped they
might hear something more definite about this one, and
drew nearer Sara accordingly.
Lavinia could only invent one remark, and it fell rather
"Dear me!" she said; "I hope, when 3^ou ascend the
throne, you won't forget us."
" I won't," said Sara, and she did not utter another word,
but stood quite still, and stared at her steadily as she saw
her take Jessie's arm and turn away.
After this, the girls who were jealous of her used to
speak of her as " Princess Sara " whenever they wished to
be particularly disdainful, and those who were fond of her
gave her the name among themselves as a term of aff ec-
THE DIAMOND-MINES 65
tlon. No one called her " princess " instead of " Sara," but
her adorers were much pleased with the picturesqueness
and grandeur of the title, and Miss Minchin, hearing of it,
mentioned it more than once to visiting parents, feeling
that it rather suggested a sort of royal boarding-school.
To Becky it seemed the most appropriate thing in the
world. The acquaintance begun on the foggy afternoon
when she had jumped up terrified from her sleep in the
comfortable chair, had ripened and grown, though it must
be confessed that Miss Minchin and Miss Amelia knew
very little about it. They were aware that Sara was
" kind " to the scullery-maid, but they knew nothing of
certain delightful moments snatched perilously when, the
up-stairs rooms being set in order with lightning rapidity,
Sara's sitting-room was reached, and the heavy coal-box
set down with a sigh of joy. At such times stories were
told by instalments, things of a satisfying nature were
either produced and eaten or hastily tucked into pockets to
be disposed of at night, when Becky went up-stairs to her
attic to bed.
" But I has to eat 'em careful, miss," she said once; " 'cos
if I leaves crumbs the rats come out to get 'em."
"Rats!" exclaimed Sara, in horro*-. "Are there rats
" Lots of 'em, miss," Becky answered in quite a matter-
of-fact manner. " There mostly is rats an' mice in attics.
You gets used to the noise they makes scuttling about.
I 've got so I don't mind 'em s' long as they don't run over
66 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"Ugh! "said Sara.
"You gets used to anythin' after a bit," said Becky.
" You have to, miss, if you 're born a scullery-maid. I 'd
rather have rats than cockroaches."
" So would I," said Sara; " I suppose you might make
friends with a rat in time, but I don't believe I should like
to make friends with a cockroach."
Sometimes Becky did not dare to spend more than a few
minutes in the bright, warm room, and when this was the
case perhaps only a few words could be exchanged, and a
small purchase slipped into the old-fashioned pocket Becky
carried under her dress skirt, tied round her waist with a
band of tape. The search for and discovery of satisfying
things to eat which could be packed into small compass,
added a new interest to Sara's existence. When she drove
or walked out, she used to look into shop windows eagerly.
The first time it occurred to her to bring home two or three
little meat-pies, she felt that she had hit upon a discovery.
When she exhibited them, Becky's eyes quite sparkled.
"Oh, miss!" she murmured. "Them will be nice an'
fillin'. It 's fillin'ness that 's best. Sponge-cake 's a
'evingly thing, but it melts away like— if you understand,
miss. These '11 just stay in yer stummick."
" Well," hesitated Sara, " I don't think it would be good
if they stayed always, but I do believe they will be satis-
They were satisfying,— and so were beef sandwiches,
bought at a cook-shop,— and so were rolls and Bologna
sausage. In time, Becky began to lose her hungry, tired
THE DIAMOND-MINES 67
feeling, and the coal-box did not seem so untjearably
However heavy it wajs, and whatsoever the temper of the
cook, and the hardness of the work heaped upon her shoul-
ders, she had always the chance of the afternoon to look
forward to — the chance that Miss Sara would be able to be
in her sitting-room. In fact, the mere seeing of Miss Sara
would have been enough without meat-pies. If there was
time only for a few words, they were always friendly,
merry words that put heart into one ; and if there was time
for more, then there was an instalment of a story to be told,
or some other thing one remembered afterward and some-
times lay awake in one's bed in the attic to think over.
Sara— who was only doing what she unconsciously liked
better than anything else, Nature having made her for a
giver— had not the least idea what she meant to poor
Becky, and how wonderful a benefactor she seemed. If
Nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born
open, and so is your heart; and though there may be
times when your hands are empty, your heart is always
full, and you can give things out of that— warm things,
kind things, sweet things,— help and comfort and laughter,
—and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.
Becky had scarcely known what laughter was through
all her poor, little hard-driven life. Sara made her laugh,
and laughed with her; and, though neither of them
quite knew it, the laughter was as " fillin' " as the meat-
A few weeks before Sara's eleventh birthday a letter
68 A LITTLE PRINCESS
came to her from her father, which did not seem to be writ-
ten in such boyish high spirits as usual. He was not very-
well, and was evidently overweighted by the business con-
nected with the diamond-mines.
" You see, little Sara," he wrote, " your daddy is not a
business man at all, and figures and documents bother him.
He does not really understand them, and all this seems so
enormous. Perhaps, if I was not feverish I should not be
awake, tossing about, one half of the night and spend the
other half in troublesome dreams. If my little missus were
here, I dare say she would give me some solemn, good
advice. You would, would n't you, little missus?"
One of his many jokes had been to call her his "little
missus" because she had such an old-fashioned air.
He had made wonderful preparations for her birthday.
Among other things, a new doll had been ordered in Paris,
and her wardrobe was to be, indeed, a marvel of splendid
perfection. When she had replied to the letter asking her
if the doll would be an acceptable present, Sara had been
"I am getting very old," she wrote; "you see, I shall
never live to have another doll given me. This will be my
last doll. There is something solemn about it. If I could
write poetry, I am sure a poem about ' A Last Doll ' would
be very nice. But I cannot write poetry. I have tried, and
it made me laugh. It did not sound like Watts or Cole-
ridge or Shakespeare at all. No one could ever take
Emily's place, but I should respect the Last Doll very
much ; and I am sure the school would love it. They all like
THE DIAMOND-MINES 69
dolls, though some of the big ones— the almost fifteen ones
— pretend they are too grown up."
Captain Crewe had a splitting headache when he read
this letter in his bungalow in India. The table before him
was heaped with papers and letters which were alarming
him and filling him with anxious dread, but he laughed as
he had not laughed for weeks.
" Oh," he said, " she 's better fun every year she lives.
God grant this business may right itself and leave me free
to i-un home and see her. What would n't I give to have
her little arms round my neck this minute ! What would nt
The birthday was to be celebrated by great festivities.
The school-room was to be decorated, and there was to be a
party. The boxes containing the presents were to be
opened with great ceremony, and there was to be a glitter-
ing feast spread in Miss Minchin's sacred room. When
the day arrived the M'hole house was in a whirl of excite-
ment. How the morning passed nobody quite knew, be-
cause there seemed such preparations to be made. The
school-room was being decked with garlands of holly; the
desks had been moved away, and red covers had been put
on the forms which were arrayed round the room against
When Sara went into her sitting-room in the morning,
she found on the table a small, dumpy package, tied up
in a piece of brown paper. She knew it was a present, and
she thought she could guess whom it came from. She
opened it quite tenderly. It was a square pincushion, made
70 A LITTLE PRINCESS
of not quite clean red flannel, and black pins had been stuck
carefully into it to form the words, " Menny hapy returns."
"Oh!" cried Sara, with a warm feeling in her heart.
" What pains she has taken! I like it so, it— it makes me
But the next moment she was mystified. On the under
side of the pincushion was secured a card, bearing in neat
letters the name " Miss Amelia Minchin."
Sara turned it over and over.
" Miss Amelia ! " she said to herself. " How can it be ! "
And just at that very moment she heard the door being
cautiously pushed open and saw Becky peeping round it.
There was an affectionate, happy grin on her face, and
she shuffled forward and stood nervously pulling at her
" Do yer hke it, Miss Sara? " she said. " Do yer? "
" Like it? " cried Sara. " You darling Becky, you made
it all yourself."
Becky gave a hysteric but joyful sniff, and her eyes
looked quite moist with delight.
"It ain't nothin' but flannin, an' the flannin ain't new;
but I wanted to give yer somethin' an' I made it of nights.
I knew yer could pretend it was satin with diamond pins
in. I tried to when I was makin' it. The card, miss,"
rather doubtfully ; " 't war n't wrong of me to pick it up out
o' the dust-bin, was it? Miss 'Meliar had throwed it away.
I had n't no card o' my own, an' I knowed it would n't be
a proper presink if I did n't pin a card on— so I pinned
THE DIAMOND-MINES 71
Sara flew at her and hugged her. She could not have
told herself or any one else why there was a lump in her
"Oh, Becky!" she cried out, with a queer little laugh.
" I love you, Becky,— I do, I do! "
" Oh, miss ! " breathed Becky. " Thank yer, miss, kindly ;
It ain't good enough for that. The— the flannin was n't
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN
WHEN Sara entered the holly-hung school-room
in the afternoon, she did so as the head of a
sort of procession. Miss Minchin, in her
grandest silk dress, led her by the hand. A man-servant
followed, carrying the box containing the Last Doll, a
housemaid carried a second box, and Becky brought up the
rear, carrying a third and wearing a clean apron and a new
cap. Sara would have much preferred to enter in the usual
way, but Miss Minchin had sent for her, and, after an in-
terview in her private sitting-room, had expressed her
" This is not an ordinary occasion," she said. " I do not
desire that it should be treated as one."
So Sara was led grandly in and felt shy when, on
her entry, the big girls stared at her and touched each
other's elbows, and the little ones began to squirm joyously
in their seats.
" Silence, young ladies! " said Miss Minchin, at the mur-
mur which arose. "James, place the box on the table and
remove the lid. Emma, put yours upon a chair. Becky! "
suddenly and severely.
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 73
Becky had quite forgotten herself in her excitement, and
was grinning at Lottie, who was wriggHng with rapturous
expectation. She almost dropped her box, the disapprov-
ing voice so startled her, and her frightened, bobbing cour-
tesy of apology was so funny that Lavinia and Jessie
" It is not your place to look at the young ladies," said
Miss Minchin. " You forget yourself. Put your box
Becky obeyed with alarmed haste and hastily backed to-
ward the door.
"You may leave us," Miss Minchin announced to the
servants with a wave of her hand.
Becky stepped aside respectfully to allow the superior
servants to pass out first. She could not help casting a long-
ing glance at the box on the table. Something made of
blue satin was peeping from between the folds of tissue-
" If you please. Miss Minchin," said Sara, suddenly,
"may n't Becky stay?"
It was a bold thing to do. Miss Minchin was betrayed
into something like a slight jump. Then she put her eye-
glass up, and gazed at her show pupil disturbedly.
"Becky!" she exclaimed. "My dearest Sara!"
Sara advanced a step toward her.
" I want her because I know she will like to see the pres-
ents," she explained. " She is a little girl, too, you know."
Miss Minchin was scandalized. She glanced from one
figure to the other.
74 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" My dear Sara," she said, " Becky is the scullery-maid.
Scullery-maids— er— are not little girls."
It really had not occurred to her to think of them in that
light. Scullery-maids were machines who carried coal-
scuttles and made fires.
" But Becky is," said Sara. " And I know she would
enjoy herself. Please let her stay— because it is my birth-
Miss Minchin replied with much dignity:
" As you ask it as a birthday favor— she may stay. Re-
becca, thank Miss Sara for her great kindness."
Becky had been backing into the corner, twisting the
hem of her apron in delighted suspense. She came for-
ward, bobbing courtesies, but between Sara's eyes and her
own there passed a gleam of friendly understanding, while
her words tumbled over each other.
"Oh, if you please, miss! I 'm that grateful, miss! I
did want to see the doll, miss, that I did. Thank you,
miss. And thank you, ma'am,"— turning and making an
alarmed bob to Miss Minchin, — "for letting me take the
Miss Minchin waved her hand again— this time it was
in the direction of the corner near the door.
" Go and stand there," she commanded. " Not too near
the young ladies."
Becky went to her place, grinning. She did not care
where she was sent, so that she might have the luck of
being inside the room, instead of being down-stairs in the
scullery, while these delights were going on. She did not
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 75
even mind when Miss Minchin cleared her throat omi-
nously and spoke again.
" Now, young ladies, I have a few words to say to you,"
" She 's going to make a speech," whispered one of the
girls. " I wish it was over."
Sara felt rather uncomfortable. As this was her party,
it was probable that the speech was about her. It is not
agreeable to stand in a school-room and have a speech made
"You are aware, young ladies," the speech began,— for
it was a speech,— " that dear Sara is eleven years old to-
"Dear Sara!" murmured Lavinia.
" Several of you here have also been eleven years old, but
Sara's birthdays are rather different from other little girls'
birthdays. When she is older she will be heiress to a large
fortune, which it will be her duty to spend in a meritorious
" The diamond-mines," giggled Jessie, in a whisper.
Sara did not hear her; but as she stood with her green-
gray eyes fixed steadily on Miss Minchin, she felt herself
growing rather hot. When Miss Minchin talked about
money, she felt somehow that she always hated her — and,
of course, it was disrespectful to hate grown-up people.
"When her dear papa, Captain Crewe, brought her
from India and gave her into my care," the speech pro-
ceeded, "he said to me, in a jesting way, 'I am afraid
she will be very rich. Miss Minchin.' My reply was, ' Her
76 A LITTLE PRINCESS
education at my seminary, Captain Crewe, shall be such as
will adorn the largest fortune.' Sara has become my most
accomplished pupil. Her French and her dancing are a
credit to the seminary. Her manners — which have caused
you to call her Princess Sara— are perfect. Her amiability
she exhibits by giving you this afternoon's party. I hope
you appreciate her generosity. I wish you to express your
appreciation of it by saying aloud all together, ' Thank
The entire school-room rose to its feet as it had done the
morning Sara remembered so well.
"Thank you, Sara!" it said, and it must be confessed that
Lottie jumped up and down. Sara looked rather shy for a
moment. She made a courtesy — and it was a very nice one.
" Thank you," she said, " for coming to my party."
" Very pretty, indeed, Sara," approved Miss Minchin.
" That is what a real princess does when the populace ap-
plauds her. Lavinia,"— scathingly,— " the sound you just
made was extremely like a snort. If you are jealous of
your fellow-pupil, I beg you will express your feelings in
some more ladylike manner. Now I will leave you to en-
The instant she had swept out of the room the spell
her presence always had upon them was broken. The
door had scarcely closed before every seat was empty. The
little girls jumped or tumbled out of theirs; the older ones
wasted no time in deserting theirs. There was a rush to-
ward the boxes. Sara had bent over one of them with a
The children crowded clamoring around her.
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 77
"These are books, I know," she said.
The Httle children broke into a rueful murmur, and
Ermengarde looked aghast.
"Does your papa send you books for a birthday pres-
ent? " she exclaimed. " Why, he 's as bad as mine. Don't
open them, Sara."
" I like them," Sara laughed, but she turned to the big-
gest box. When she took out the Last Doll it was so
magnificent that the children uttered delighted groans of
joy, and actually drew back to gaze at it in breathless
" She is almost as big as Lottie," some one gasped.
Lottie clapped her hands and danced about, giggling.
" She 's dressed for the theatre," said Lavinia. " Her
cloak is lined with ermine."
"Oh!" cried Ermengarde, darting forward, "she has
an opera-glass in her hand— a blue-and-gold one."
" Here is her trunk," said Sara. " Let us open it and
look at her things."
She sat down upon the floor and turned the key. The
children crowded clamoring around her, as she lifted tray
after tray and revealed their contents. Never had the
school-room been in such an uproar. There were lace col-
lars and silk stockings and handkerchiefs; there was a
jewel-case containing a necklace and a tiara which looked
quite as if they were made of real diamonds; there was a
long sealskin and muff; there were ball dresses and walking
dresses and visiting dresses; there were hats and tea-gowr.s
and fans. Even Lavinia and Jessie forgot that they were
78 A LITTLE PRINCESS
too elderly to care for dolls, and uttered exclamations of
delight and caught up things to look at them.
" Suppose," Sara said, as she stood by the table, putting
a large, black -velvet hat on the impassively smiling owner
of all these splendors — "suppose she understands human
talk and feels proud of being admired."
" You are always supposing things," said Lavinia, and
her air was very superior.
" I know I am," answered Sara, undisturbedly. *' I like
it. There is nothing so nice as supposing. It 's almost like
being a fairy. If you suppose anything hard enough it
seems as if it were real."
" It 's all very well to suppose things if you have every-
thing," said Lavinia. " Could you suppose and pretend if
you were a beggar and lived in a garret?"
Sara stopped arranging the Last Doll's ostrich plumes,
and looked thoughtful.
" I believe I could," she said. " If one was a beggar, one
would have to suppose and pretend all the time. But it
might n't be easy."
She often thought afterward how strange it was that
just as she had finished saying this— just at that very mo-
ment—Miss Amelia came into the room.
" Sara," she said, " your papa's solicitor, Mr. Barrow,
has called to see Miss Minchin, and, as she must talk to him
alone and the refreshments are laid in her parlor, you had
all better come and have your feast now, so that my sister
can have her interview here in the school-room."
Refreshments were not likely to be disdained at any
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 79
hour, and many pairs of eyes gleamed. Miss Amelia ar-
ranged the procession into decorum, and then, with Sara
at her side heading it, she led it away, leaving the Last Doll
sitting upon a chair with the glories of her wardrobe
scattered about her; dresses and coats hung upon chair
backs, piles of lace-frilled petticoats lying upon their
Becky, who was not expected to partake of refresh-
ments, had the indiscretion to linger a moment to look at
these beauties — it really was an indiscretion.
" Go back to your work, Becky," Miss Amelia had said;
but she had stopped to reverently pick up first a muff and
then a coat, and while she stood looking at them adoringly,
she heard Miss Minchin upon the threshold, and, being
smitten with terror at the thought of being accused of tak-
ing liberties, she rashly darted under the table, which hid
her by its table-cloth.
Miss Minchin came into the room, accompanied by a
sharp-featured, dry little gentleman, who looked rather dis-
turbed. Miss Minchin herself also looked rather disturbed,
it must be admitted, and she gazed at the dry little gentle-
man with an irritated and puzzled expression.
She sat down with stiff dignity, and waved him to a
" Pray, be seated, Mr. Barrow," she said.
Mr. Barrow did not sit down at once. His attention
seemed attracted by the Last Doll and the things which
surrounded her. He settled his eye-glasses and looked at
them in nervous disapproval. The Last Doll herself did
80 A LITTLE PRINCESS
not seem to mind this in the least. She merely sat upright
and returned his gaze indifferently.
" A hundred pounds," Mr. Barrow remarked succinctly.
" All expensive material, and made at a Parisian modiste's.
He spent money lavishly enough, that young man."
Miss Minchin felt offended. This seemed to be a dis-
paragement of her best patron and was a liberty.
Even solicitors had no right to take liberties.
" I beg your pardon, Mr. Barrow," she said stiffly. " I
do not understand."
" Birthday presents," said Mr. Barrow in the same criti-
cal manner, "to a child eleven years old! Mad extrava-
gance, I call it."
Miss Minchin drew herself up still more rigidly.
" Captain Crewe is a man of fortune," she said. " The
diamond-mines alone — "
Mr. Barrow wheeled round upon her.
"Diamond-mines!" he broke out. "There are none!
Miss Minchin actually got up from her chair.
"What!" she cried. "What do you mean?"
" At any rate," answered Mr. Barrow, quite snappishly,
" it would have been much better if there never had been
"Any diamond-mines?" ejaculated Miss Minchin,
catching at the back of a chair and feeling as if a splendid
dream was fading away from her.
"Diamond-mines spell ruin oftener than they spell
wealth," said Mr. Barrow. " When a man is in the hands
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 81
of a very dear friend and is not a business man himself, he
had better steer clear of the dear friend's diamond-mines,
or gold-mines, or any other kind of mines dear friends want
his money to put into. The late Captain Crewe—"
Here Miss Minchin stopped him with a gasp.
"The late Captain Crewe!" she cried out; "the late!
You don't come to tell me that Captain Crewe is—"
" He 's dead, ma'am," Mr. Barrow answered with jerky
brusqueness. " Died of jungle fever and business troubles
combined. The jungle fever might not have killed him if
he had not been driven mad by the business troubles, and
the business troubles might not have put an end to him if
the jungle fever had not assisted. Captain Crewe is
Miss Minchin dropped into her chair again. The words
he had spoken filled her with alarm.
"What were his business troubles?" she said. "What
"Diamond-mines," answered Mr. Barrow, "and dear
friends— and ruin."
Miss Minchin lost her breath.
"Ruin!" she gasped out.
"Lost every penny. That young man had too much
money. The dear friend was mad on the subject of the
diamond-mine. He put all his own money into it, and all
Captain Crewe's. Then the dear friend ran away— Cap-
tain Crewe was already stricken with fever when the news
came. The shock was too much for him. He died deliri-
ous, raving about his little girl— and did n't leave a penny."
82 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Now Miss Minchin understood, and never had she re-
ceived such a blow in her hfe. Her show pupil, her show
patron, swept away from the Select Seminary at one blow.
She felt as if she had been outraged and robbed, and that
Captain Crewe and Sara and Mr. Barrow were equally to
" Do you mean to tell me," she cried out, " that he left
nothing! That Sara will have no fortune ! That the child
is a beggar! That she is left on my hands a little pauper
instead of an heiress?"
Mr. Barrow was a shrewd business man, and felt it as
well to make his own freedom from responsibility quite
clear without any delay.
" She is certainly left a beggar," he replied. " And she
is certainly left on your hands, ma'am,— as she has n't a
relation in the world that we know of."
Miss Minchin started forward. She looked as if she was
going to open the door and rush out of the room to stop
the festivities going on joyfully and rather noisily that
moment over the refreshments.
" It is monstrous! " she said. " She 's in my sitting-room
at this moment, dressed in silk gauze and lace petticoats,
giving a party at my expense."
" She 's giving it at your expense, madam, if she 's giv-
ing it," said Mr. Barrow, calmly. " Barrow & Skipworth
are not responsible for anything. There never was a
cleaner sweep made of a man's fortune. Captain Crewe
died without paying our last bill— and it was a big one."
Miss Minchin turned back from the door in increased in-
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 83
dignation. This was worse than any one could have
dreamed of its being.
" That is what has happened to me! " she cried. " I was
always so sure of his payments that I went to all sorts of
ridiculous expenses for the child. I paid the bills for that
ridiculous doll and her ridiculous fantastic wardrobe. The
child was to have anything she wanted. She has a carriage
and a pony and a maid, and I 've paid for all of them since
the last cheque came."
Mr. Barrow evidently did not intend to remain to listen
to the story of Miss Minchin's grievances after he had
made the position of his firm clear and related the mere
dry facts. He did not feel any particular sympathy for
irate keepers of boarding-schools,
" You had better not pay for anything more, ma'am,"
he remarked, "unless you want to make presents to the
young lady. No one will remember you. She hasn't a
brass farthing to call her own."
"But what am I to do?" demanded Miss Minchin, as
if she felt it entirely his duty to make the matter right.
"What am I to do?"
" There is n't anything to do," said Mr. Barrow, folding
up his eye-glasses and slipping them into his pocket.
" Captain Crewe is dead. The child is left a pauper. No-
body is responsible for her but you."
" I am not responsible for her, and I refuse to be made
Miss Minchin became quite white with rage.
Mr, Barrow turned to go.
84 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" I have nothing to do with that, madam," he said un-
interestedly. "Barrow & Skipworth are not responsible.
Very sorry the thing has happened, of course."
" If you think she is to be foisted off on me, you are
greatly mistaken," Miss Minchin gasped. " I have been
robbed and cheated; I will turn her into the street!"
If she had not been so furious, she would have been too
discreet to say quite so much. She saw herself burdened
with an extravagantly brought-up child whom she had al-
ways resented, and she lost all self-control.
Mr. Barrow undisturbedly moved toward the door.
"I would n't do that, madam," he commented; "it
would n't look well. Unpleasant story to get about in con-
nection with the establishment. Pupil bundled out pen-
niless and without friends."
He was a clever business man, and he knew what he was
saying. He also knew that Miss Minchin was a business
woman, and would be shrewd enough to see the truth. She
could not afford to do a thing which would make people
speak of her as cruel and hard-hearted.
"Better keep her and make use of her," he added.
" She 's a clever child, I believe. You can get a good deal
out of her as she grows older."
" I will get a good deal out of her before she grows
older! " exclaimed Miss ^linchin.
" I am sure you will, ma'am," said Mr. Barrow, with a
little sinister smile. " I am sure you will. Good morn-
He bowed himself out and closed the door, and it must
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 85
be confessed that Miss Minchin stood for a few moments
and glared at it. What he had said was quite true. She
knew it. She had absolutely no redress. Her show pupil
had melted into nothingness, leaving only a friendless, beg-
gared little girl. Such money as she herself had advanced
was lost and could not be regained.
And as she stood there breathless under her sense of
injury, there fell upon her ears a burst of gay voices from
her own sacred room, which had actually been given up to
the feast. She could at least stop this.
But as she started toward the door it was opened by
Miss Amelia, who, when she caught sight of the changed,
angry face, fell back a step in alarm.
"What is the matter, sister?" she ejaculated.
Miss Minchin's voice was almost fierce when she an-
"Where is Sara Crewe?"
Miss Amelia was bewildered.
"Sara!" she stammered. "Why, she 's with the chil-
dren in your room, of course."
"Has she a black frock in her sumptuous wardrobe?"
—in bitter irony.
" A black frock? " Miss Amelia stammered again. " A
black one ? "
" She has frocks of every other color. Has she a black
Miss Amelia began to turn pale.
"No— ye-es!" she said. "But it is too short for her.
She has only the old black velvet, and she has outgrown it."
86 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" Go and tell her to take off that preposterous pink silk
gauze, and put the black one on, whether it is too short or
not. She has done with fineiy!"
Then Miss Amelia began to wring her fat hands and cry.
" Oh, sister! " she sniiFed. " OH, sister! What can have
Miss Minchin wasted no words.
" Captain Crewe is dead," she said. " He has died with-
out a penny. That spoiled, pampered, fanciful child is left
a pauper on my hands."
Miss Amelia sat down quite heavily in the nearest chair.
" Hundreds of pounds have I spent on nonsense for her.
And I shall never see a penny of it. Put a stop to this
ridiculous party of hers. Go and make her change her
frock at once."
"I?" panted Miss Amelia. "M-must I go and tell
" This moment! " was the fierce answer. " Don't sit star-
ing like a goose. Go!"
Poor Miss Amelia was accustomed to being called a
goose. She knew, in fact, that she was rather a goose, and
that it was left to geese to do a great many disagreeable
things. It was a somewhat embarrassing thing to go into
the midst of a room full of delighted children, and tell the
giver of the feast that she had suddenly been transformed
into a little beggar, and must go up-stairs and put on an
old black frock which was too small for her. But the thing
must be done. This was evidently not the time when ques-
tions might be asked.
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 87
She rubbed her eyes with her handkerchief until they
looked quite red. After which she got up and went out of
the room, without venturing to say another word. When
her older sister looked and spoke as she had done just now,
the wisest course to pursue was to obey orders without any
comment. Miss Minchin walked across the room. She
spoke to herself aloud without knowing that she was doing
it. During the last year the story of the diamond-mines
had suggested all sorts of possibilities to her. Even pro-
prietors of seminaries might make fortunes in stocks, with
the aid of owners of mines. And now, instead of looking
forward to gains, she was left to look back upon losses.
" The Princess Sara, indeed! " she said. " The child has
been pampered as if she were a queen."
She was sweeping angrily past the corner table as she
said it, and the next moment she started at the sound of
a loud, sobbing sniff which issued from under the cover.
"What is that! " she exclaimed angrily. The loud, sob-
bing sniff was heard again, and she stooped and raised the
hanging folds of the table-cover.
"How dare you!" she cried out. "How dare you!
Come out immediately ! "
It was poor Becky who crawled out, and her cap w^as
knocked on one side, and her face was red with repressed
" If you please, 'm— it 's me, mum," she explained. " I
know I had n't ought to. But I was lookin' at the doll,
mum— an' I was frightened when you come in— an'
slipped under the table."
88 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" You have been there all the time, listening," said Miss
"No, mum," Becky protested, bobbing courtesies.
"Not listenin'— I thought I could slip out without your
noticin', but I could n't an' I had to stay. But I did n't
listen, mum— I would n't for nothin'. But I could n't help
Suddenly it seemed almost as if she lost all fear of the
awful lady before her. She burst into fresh tears.
" Oh, please, 'm," she said; " I dare say you '11 give me
warnin', mum,— but I 'm so sorry for poor Miss Sara—
I 'm so sorry!"
" Leave the room! " ordered Miss Minchin.
Becky courtesied again, the tears openly streaming
down her cheeks.
"Yes, 'm; I will, 'm," she said, trembling; "but oh, I just
wanted to arst you: Miss Sara— she 's been such a rich
young lady, an' she 's been waited on, 'and and foot; an'
what will she do now, mum, without no maid? If — if, oh
please, would you let me wait on her after I 've done my
pots an' kettles? I 'd do 'em that quick— if you 'd let me
wait on her now she 's poor. Oh,"— breaking out afresh,—
" poor little Miss Sara, mum — that was called a princess."
Somehow, she made INIiss Minchin feel more angry than
ever. That the very scullery-maid should range herself on
the side of this child— whom she realized more fully than
ever that she had never liked— was too much. She actually
stamped her foot.
" No — certainly not," she said. " She will wait on her-
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 89
self, and on other people, too. Leave the room this instant,
or you '11 leave your place."
Becky threw her apron over her head and fled. She ran
out of the room and down the steps into the scullery, and
there she sat down among her pots and kettles, and wept as
if her heart would break.
" It 's exactly like the ones in the stories," she wailed.
" Them pore princess ones that was drove into the world."
Miss Minchin had never looked quite so still and hard
as she did when Sara came to her, a few hours later, in re-
sponse to a message she had sent her.
Even by that .time it seemed to Sara as if the birthday
party had either been a dream or a thing which had hap-
pened years ago, and had happened in the life of quite an-
other little girl.
Every sign of the festivities had been swept away; the
holly had been removed from the school-room walls, and the
forms and desks put back into their places. Miss Min-
chin's sitting-room looked as it always did — all traces of
the feast were gone, and Miss Minchin had resumed her
usual dress. The pupils had been ordered to lay aside their
party frocks ; and this having been done, they had returned
to the school-room and huddled together in groups, whis-
pering and talking excitedly.
" Tell Sara to come to my room," Miss Minchin had said
to her sister. " And explain to her clearly that I will have
no crying or unpleasant scenes."
" Sister," replied Miss Amelia, " she is the strangest
90 A LITTLE PRINCESS
child I ever saw. She has actually made no fuss at all.
You remember she made none when Captain Crewe went
back to India. When I told her what had happened, she
just stood quite still and looked at me without making a
sound. Her eyes seemed to get bigger and bigger, and she
went quite pale. When I had finished, she still stood star-
ing for a few seconds, and then her chin began to shake, and
she turned round and ran out of the room and up-stairs.
Several of the other children began to cry, but she did not
seem to hear them or to be alive to anything but just what
I was saying. It made me feel quite queer not to be an-
swered; and when you tell anything sudden and strange,
you expect people will say something— whatever it is."
Nobody but Sara herself ever knew what had happened
in her room after she had run up-stairs and locked her door.
In fact, she herself scarcely remembered anything but that
she walked up and down, saying over and over again to
herself in a voice which did not seem her own:
"My papa is dead! My papa is dead!"
Once she stopped before Emily, who sat watching her
from her chair, and cried out wildly:
"Emily! Do you hear? Do you hear — papa is dead?
He is dead in India — thousands of miles away."
When she came into Miss Minchin's sitting-room in an-
swer to her summons, her face was white and her eyes had
dark rings around them. Her mouth was set as if she did
not wish it to reveal what she had suffered and was suffer-
ing. She did not look in the least like the rose-colored but-
terfly child who had flown about from one of her treasures
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 91
to the other in the decorated school-room. She looked in-
stead a strange, desolate, almost grotesque little figure.
She had put on, without Mariette's help, the cast-aside
black-velvet frock. It was too short and tight, and her
slender legs looked long and thin, showing themselves from
beneath the brief skirt. As she had not found a piece of
black ribbon, her short, thick, black hair tumbled loosely
about her face and contrasted strongly with its pallor. She
held Emily tightly in one arm, and Emily was swathed in
a piece of black material.
" Put down your doll," said Miss Minchin. " What do
you mean by bringing her here? "
" No," Sara answered. " I will not put her down. She
is all I have. My papa gave her to me."
She had always made Miss INIinchin feel secretly un-
comfortable, and she did so now. She did not speak with
rudeness so much as with a cold steadiness with which Miss
Minchin felt it difficult to cope — perhaps because she knew
she was doing a heartless and inhuman thing.
" You will have no time for dolls in future," she said.
" You will have to work and improve yourself and make
Sara kept her big, strange eyes fixed on her, and said not
" Everything will be very different now," Miss Minchin
w^ent on. " I suppose Miss Amelia has explained matters
" Yes," answered Sara. " My papa is dead. He left me
no money. I am quite poor."
92 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"You are a beggar," said Miss Minchin, her temper
rising at the recollection of what all this meant. " It ap-
pears that you have no relations and no home, and no one
to take care of you."
For a moment the thin, pale little face twitched, but Sara
again said nothing.
"What are you staring at?" demanded Miss Minchin,
sharply. " Are you so stupid that you cannot understand?
I tell you that you are quite alone in the world, and have
no one to do anything for you, unless I choose to keep you
here out of charity."
" I understand," answered Sara, in a low tone; and there
was a sound as if she had gulped down something which
rose in her throat. " I understand."
" That doll," cried Miss JVIinchin, pointing to the splen-
did birthday gift seated near — "that ridiculous doll, with
all her nonsensical, extravagant things— Z actually paid
the bill for her!"
Sara turned her head toward the chair.
" The Last Doll," she said. " The Last Doll." And her
little mournful voice had an odd sound.
"The Last Doll, indeed!" said Miss Minchin. "And
she is mine, not yours. Everything you own is mine."
" Please take it away from me, then," said Sara. " I do
not want it."
If she had cried and sobbed and seemed frightened. Miss
Minchin might almost have had more patience with her.
She was a woman who liked to domineer and feel her
power, and as she looked at Sara's pale little steadfast face
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN 93
and heard her proud little voice, she quite felt as if her
might was being set at naught.
"Don't put on grand airs," she said. "The time for
that sort of thing is past. You are not a princess any
longer. Your carriage and your pony will be sent away
—your maid will be dismissed. You will wear your oldest
and plainest clothes — your extravagant ones are no longer
suited to your station. You are like Becky — you must
work for your living."
To her surprise, a faint gleam of light came into the
child's eyes— a shade of relief.
"Can I work?" she said. "If I can work it will not
matter so much. What can I do? "
" You can do anything you are told," was the answer.
"You are a sharp child, and pick up things readily. If
you make yourself useful I may let you stay here. You
speak French well, and you can help with the younger
"May I?" exclaimed Sara. "Oh, please let me! I
know I can teach them. I like them, and they like
" Don't talk nonsense about people liking you," said
Miss Minchin. " You will have to do more than teach
the little ones. You will run errands and help in the
kitchen as well as in the school-room. If you don't please
me, you will be sent away. Remember that. Now go."
Sara stood still just a moment, looking at her. In her
young soul, she was thinking deep and strange things.
Then she turned to leave the room.
94 ' A LITTLE PRINCESS
"Stop!" said Miss Minchin. "Don't you intend to
Sara paused, and all the deep, strange thoughts surged
up in her breast.
"What for?" she said.
" For my kindness to you," replied Miss Minchin.
" For my kindness in giving you a home."
Sara made two or three steps toward her. Her thin lit-
tle chest heaved up and down, and she spoke in a strange,
unchildishly fierce way.
" You are not kind," she said. " You are 7iot kind, and
it is not a home." And she had turned and run out of the
room before INIiss ^linchin could stop her or do anything
but stare after her with stony anger.
She went up the stairs slowly, but panting for breath,
and she held Emily tightly against her side.
" I wish she could talk," she said to herself. " If she
could speak — if she could speak!"
She meant to go to her room and lie down on the tiger-
skin, with her cheek upon the great cat's head, and look
into the fire and think and think and think. But just
before she reached the landing Miss Amelia came out of
the door and closed it behind her, and stood before it, look-
ing nervous and awkward. The truth was that she felt se-
cretly ashamed of the thing she had been ordered to do.
" You — you are not to go in there," she said.
" Not go in? " exclaimed Sara, and she fell back a pace.
" That is not your room now," Miss Amelia answered,
reddening a little.
Somehow, all at once, Sara understood. She realized
She seldom cried. She du\ not erv now,
THE DIAMOND-MINES AGAIN d5
that this was the beginning of the change Miss Minchin
had spoken of.
" Where is my room? " she asked, hoping very much that
her voice did not shake.
"You are to sleep in the attic next to Becky."
Sara knew where it was. Becky had told her about it.
She turned, and mounted up two flights of stairs. The
last one was narrow, and covered with shabby strips of old
carpet. She felt as if she were walking away and leaving
far behind her the world in which that other child, who no
longer seemed herself, had lived. This child, in her short,
tight old frock, climbing the stairs to the attic, was quite
a different creature.
When she reached the attic door and opened it, her heart
gave a dreary little thump. Then she shut the door and
stood against it and looked about her.
Yes, this was another world. The room had a slanting
roof and was whitewashed. The whitewash was dingy and
had fallen off in places. There was a rusty grate, an old
iron bedstead, and a hard bed covered with a faded cover-
let. Some pieces of furniture too much worn to be used
down-stairs had been sent up. Under the skylight in the
roof, which showed nothing but an oblong piece of dull
gray sky, there stood an old battered red footstool. Sara
went to it and sat down. She seldom cried. She did not
cry now. She laid Emily across her knees and put her face
down upon her and her arms around her, and sat there, her
little black head resting on the black draperies, not saying
one word, not making one sound.
And as she sat in this silence there came a low tap at the
96 A LITTLE PRINCESS
door— such a low, humble one that slie did not at first hear
it, and, indeed, was not roused until the door was timidly
pushed open and a poor tear-smeared face appeared peep-
ing round it. It was Becky's face, and Becky had been
crying furtively for hours and rubbing her eyes with her
kitchen apron until she looked strange indeed.
"Oh, miss," she said under her breath. "Might I—
would you allow me— jest to come in?"
Sara lifted her head and looked at her. She tried to
begin a smile, and somehow she could not. Suddenly — and
it was all through the loving mournfulness of Becky's
streaming eyes — her face looked more like a child's not so
much too old for her years. She held out her hand and
gave a little sob.
" Oh, Becky," she said. " I told you we were just the
same— only two little girls— just two little girls. You see
how true it is. There 's no difference now. I 'm not a
princess any more."
Becky ran to her and caught her hand, and hugged it to
her breast, kneeling beside her and sobbing with love and
" Yes, miss, you are," she cried, and her words were all
broken. "Whats'ever 'appens to you— whats'ever—
you'd be a princess all the same— an' nothin' could n't
make you nothin' different."
IN THE ATTIC
THE first night she spent in her attic was a thing
Sara never forgot. During its passing, she Hved
through a wild, unchildhke woe of which she never
spoke to any one about her. There was no one who would
have understood. It was, indeed, well for her that as she
lay awake in the darkness her mind was forcibly distracted,
now and then, by the strangeness of her surroundings. It
was, perhaps, well for her that she was reminded by her
small body of material things. If this had not been so, the
anguish of her young mind might have been too great for
a child to bear. But, really, while the night was passing
she scarcely knew that she had a body at all or remembered
any other thing than one.
"My papa is dead!" she kept whispering to herself.
" My papa is dead! "
It was not until long afterward that she realized that her
bed had been so hard that she turned over and over in it
to find a place to rest, that the darkness seemed more in-
tense than any she had ever known, and that the wind
howled over the roof among the chimneys like something
which wailed aloud. Then there was something worse.
98 A LITTLE PRINCESS
This was certain scufflings and scratchings and squeakings
in the walls and behind the skirting boards. She knew
what they meant, because Becky had described them.
They meant rats and mice who were either fighting with
each other or playing together. Once or twice she even
heard sharp-toed feet scurrying across the floor, and she re-
membered in those after daj^s, when she recalled things,
that when first she heard them she started up in bed and sat
trembling, and when she lay down again covered her head
with the bedclothes.
The change in her life did not come about gradually, but
was made all at once.
" She must begin as she is to go on," Miss Minchin said
to Miss Amelia. " She must be taught at once what she
is to expect."
Mariette had left the house the next morning. The
glimpse Sara caught of her sitting-room, as she passed its
open door, showed her that everything had been changed.
Her ornaments and luxuries had been removed, and a bed
had been placed in a corner to transform it into a new
When she went down to breakfast she saw that her seat
at Miss Minchin's side was occupied by Lavinia, and Miss
Minchin spoke to her coldly.
" You will begin your new duties, Sara," she said, " by
taking your seat with the younger children at a smaller
table. You must keep them quiet, and see that they behave
well and do not waste their food. You ought to have been
down earlier. Lottie has already upset her tea."
IN THE ATTIC 99
That was the beginning, and from day to day the duties
given to her were added to. She taught the younger chil-
dren French and heard their other lessons, and these were
the least of her labors. It was found that she could be
made use of in numberless directions. She could be sent
on errands at any time and in all weathers. She could be
told to do things other people neglected. The cook and the
housemaids took their tone from JVIiss Minchin, and rather
enjoyed ordering about the " young one " who had been
made so much fuss over for so long. They were not ser-
vants of the best class, and had neither good manners nor
good tempers, and it was frequently convenient to have at
hand some one on whom blame could be laid.
During the first month or two, Sara thought that her
willingness to do things as well as she could, and her silence
under reproof, might soften those who drove her so hard.
In her proud little heart she wanted them to see that she
was trying to earn her living and not accepting charity.
But the time came when she saw that no one was softened
at all ; and the more willing she was to do as she was told,
the more domineering and exacting careless housemaids
became, and the more ready a scolding cook was to blame
If she had been older, Miss Minchin would have given
her the bigger girls to teach and saved money by dismiss-
ing an instructress ; but while she remained and looked like
a child, she could be made more useful as a sort of little
superior errand girl and maid of all work. An ordinary
errand boy would not have been so clever and reliable.
100 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Sara could be trusted with difficult commissions and com-
plicated messages. She could even go and pay bills, and
she combined with this the ability to dust a room well and
to set things in order.
Her own lessons became things of the past. She was
taught nothing, and only after long and busy days spent
in running here and there at everybody's orders was she
grudgingly allowed to go into the deserted school-room,
with a pile of old books, and study alone at night.
" If I do not remind myself of the things I have learned,
perhaps I may forget them," she said to herself. " I am
almost a scullery-maid, and if I am a scullery-maid who
knows nothing, I shall be like poor Becky. I wonder if I
could quite forget and begin to drop my ^'s and not re-
member that Henry the Eighth had six wives."
One of the most curious things in her new existence was
her changed position among the pupils. Instead of being
a sort of small royal personage among them, she no longer
seemed to be one of their number at all. She was kept so
constantly at work that she scarcely ever had an oppor-
tunity of speaking to any of them, and she could not avoid
seeing that Miss Minchin preferred that she should live
a life apart from that of the occupants of the school-room.
" I will not have her forming intimacies and talking to
the other children," that lady said. " Girls like a grievance,
and if she begins to tell romantic stories about herself, she
will become an ill-used heroine, and parents will be given a
wrong impression. It is better that she should live a sepa-
rate life — one suited to her circumstances. I am giving
IN THE ATTIC 101
her a home, and that is more than she has any right to ex-
pect from me."
Sara did not expect much, and was far too proud to try
to continue to be intimate with girls who evidently felt
rather awkward and uncertain about her. The fact was
that Miss Minchin's pupils were a set of dull, matter-of-
fact young people. They were accustomed to being rich
and comfortable, and as Sara's frocks grew shorter and
shabbier and queerer-looking, and it became an established
fact that she wore shoes with holes in them and was sent out
to buy groceries and carry them through the streets in a
basket on her arm when the cook wanted them in a hurry,
they felt rather as if, when they spoke to her, they were
addressing an under servant.
" To think that she was the girl with the diamond-
mines," Lavinia commented. " She does look an object.
And she 's queerer than ever. I never liked her much, but
I can't bear that way she has now of looking at people with-
out speaking— just as if she was finding them out."
" I am," said Sara, promptly, when she heard of this.
" That 's what I look at some people for. I like to know
about them. I think them over afterward."
The truth was that she had saved herself annoyance sev-
eral times by keeping her eye on Lavinia, who was quite
ready to make mischief, and would have been rather pleased
to have made it for the ex-show pupil.
Sara never made any mischief herself, or interfered with
any one. She worked like a drudge ; she tramped through
the wet streets, carrying parcels and baskets; she labored
102 A LITTLE PRINCESS
with the childish inattention of the httle ones' French les-
sons ; as she became shabbier and more forlorn-looking, she
was told that she had better take her meals down-stairs ; she
was treated as if she was nobody's concern, and her heart
grew proud and sore, but she never told any one what she
" Soldiers don't complain," she would say between her
small, shut teeth. " I am not going to do it ; I will pretend
this is part of a war."
But there were hours when her child heart might almost
have broken with loneliness but for three people.
The first, it must be owned, was Becky— just Becky.
Throughout all that first night spent in the garret, she had
felt a vague comfort in knowing that on the other side of
the wall in which the rats scuffled and squeaked there was
another young human creature. And during the nights
that followed the sense of comfort grew. They had little
chance to speak to each other during the day. Each had
her own tasks to perform, and any attempt at conversation
would have been regarded as a tendency to loiter and lose
"Don't mind me, miss," Becky w^hispered during the
first morning, " if I don't say nothin' polite. Some un 'd
be down on us if I did. I means ' please ' an' ' thank you '
an' ' beg pardon,' but I dass n't to take time to say it."
But before daybreak she used to slip into Sara's attic
and button her dress and give her such help as she required
before she went down-stairs to light the kitchen fire. And
when night came Sara always heard the humble knock at
IN THE ATTIC 103
her door which meant that her handmaid was ready to help
her again if she was needed. During the first weeks of her
grief Sara felt as if she were too stupefied to talk, so it hap-
pened that some time passed before they saw each other
much or exchanged visits. Becky's heart told her that it
was best that people in trouble should be left alone.
The second of the trio of comforters was Ermengarde,
but odd things happened before Ermengarde found her
When Sara's mind seemed to awaken again to the life
about her, she realized that she had forgotten that an Er-
mengarde lived in the world. The two had always been
friends, but Sara had felt as if she were years the older. It
could not be contested that Ermengarde was as dull as she
was affectionate. She clung to Sara in a simple, helpless
way; she brought her lessons to her that she might be
helped; she listened to her every word and besieged her
with requests for stories. But she had nothing interesting
to say herself, and she loathed books of every description.
She was, in fact, not a person one would remember when
one was caught in the storm of a great trouble, and Sara
It had been all the easier to forget her because she had
been suddenly called home for a few weeks. When she
came back she did not see Sara for a day or two, and when
she met her for the first time she encountered her coming
down a corridor with her arms full of garments which were
to be taken down-stairs to be mended. Sara herself had
already been taught to mend them. She looked pale and
104 A LITTLE PRINCESS
unlike herself, and she was attired in the queer, outgrown
frock whose shortness showed so much thin black leg.
Ermengarde was too slow a girl to be equal to such a
situation. She could not think of anything to say. She
knew what had happened, but, somehow, she had never im-
agined Sara could look like this— so odd and poor and al-
most like a servant. It made her quite miserable, and she
could do nothing but break into a short hysterical laugh
and exclaim— aimlessly and as if without any meaning:
"Oh, Sara! is that you?"
" Yes," answered Sara, and suddenly a strange thought
passed through her mind and made her face flush.
She held the pile of garments in her arms, and her chin
rested upon the top of it to keep it steady. Something in
the look of her straight-gazing eyes made Ermengarde
lose her wits still more. She felt as if Sara had changed
into a new kind of girl, and she had never known her before.
Perhaps it was because she had suddenly grown poor and
had to mend things and work like Becky.
"Oh," she stammered. " How— how are you?"
"I don't know," Sara replied. "How are you?"
" I 'm— I 'm quite well," said Ermengarde, overwhelmed
with shyness. Then spasmodically she thought of some-
thing to say which seemed more intimate. " Are you— are
you very unhappy?" she said in a rush.
Then Sara was guilty of an injustice. Just at that mo-
ment her torn heart swelled within her, and she felt that if
any one was as stupid as that, one had better get away from
IN THE ATTIC 105
"What do you think?" she said. "Do you think I am
very happy?" and she marched past her without another
In course of time she reahzed that if her wretchedness
had not made her forget things, she would have known that
poor, dull Ermengarde was not to be blamed for her un-
ready, awkward ways. She was always awkward, and the
more she felt, the more stupid she was given to being.
But the sudden thought which had flashed upon her had
made her over-sensitive.
" She is like the others," she had thought. " She does not
really want to talk to me. She knows no one does."
So for several weeks a barrier stood between them.
When they met by chance Sara looked the other way,
and Ermengarde felt too stiff and embarrassed to
speak. Sometimes they nodded to each other in passing,
but there were times when they did not even exchange a
" If she would rather not talk to me," Sara thought, " I
will keep out of her way. Miss Minchin makes that easy
Miss Minchin made it so easy that at last they scarcely
saw each other at all. At that time it was noticed that Er-
mengarde was more stupid than ever, and that she looked
listless and unhappy. She used to sit in the Avindow-seat,
huddled in a heap, and stare out of the window without
speaking. Once Jessie, who was passing, stopped to look
at her curiously.
"What are you crying for, Ermengarde?" she asked.
106 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" I 'm not crying," answered Ermengarde, in a muffled,
" You are," said Jessie. " A great big tear just rolled
down the bridge of your nose and dropped oif at the end
of it. And there goes another."
" Well," said Ermengarde, " I 'm miserable— and no one
need interfere." And she turned her plump back and took
out her handkerchief and boldly hid her face in it.
That night, when Sara went to her attic, she was later
than usual. She had been kept at work until after the hour
at which the pupils went to bed, and after that she had gone
to her lessons in the lonely school-room. When she reached
the top of the stairs, she was surprised to see a ghmmer of
light coming from under the attic door.
"Nobody goes there but myself," she thought quickly;
" but some one has lighted a candle."
Some one had, indeed, lighted a candle, and it was not
burning in the kitchen candlestick she was expected to use,
but in one of those belonging to the pupils' bedrooms. The
some one was sitting upon the battered footstool, and
was dressed in her night-gown and wrapped up in a red
shawl. It was Ermengarde.
"Ermengarde!" cried Sara. She was so startled that
she was almost frightened. " You will get into trouble."
Ermengarde stumbled up from her footstool. She
shuffled across the attic in her bedroom slippers, which
were too large for her. Her eyes and nose were pink with
" I know I shall— if I 'm found out," she said. " But
IN THE ATTIC 107
I don't care— I don't care a bit. Oh, Sara, please tell me.
What is the matter? Why don't you like me any more? "
Something in her voice made the familiar lump rise in
Sara's throat. It was so affectionate and simple— so like
the old Ermengarde who had asked her to be "best
friends." It sounded as if she had not meant what she had
seemed to mean during these past weeks.
" I do like you," Sara answered. " I thought— you see,
everything is different now. I thought you — were dif-
Ermengarde opened her wet eyes wide.
"Why, it was you who were different!" she cried.
" You did n't want to talk to me. I did n't know what to
do. It was you who were different after I came back."
Sara thought a moment. She saw she had made a mis-
" I am different," she explained, " though not in the way
you think. Miss Minchin does not want me to talk to the
girls. Most of them don't want to talk to me. I thought
— perhaps— you did n't. So I tried to keep out of your
" Oh, Sara," Ermengarde almost wailed in her reproach-
ful dismay. And then after one more look they rushed into
each other's arms. It must be confessed that Sara's small
black head lay for some minutes on the shoulder covered by
the red shawl. When Ermengarde had seemed to desert
her, she had felt horribly lonely.
Afterward they sat down upon the floor together, Sara
clasping her knees with her arms, and Ermengarde rolled
108 A LITTLE PRINCESS
up in her shawl. Ermengarde looked at the odd, big-eyed
little face adoringly.
" I could n't bear it any more," she said. " I dare say
you could live without me, Sara ; but I could n't live with-
out you. I was nearly dead. So to-night, when I was cry-
ing under the bedclothes, I thought all at once of creeping
up here and just begging you to let us be friends again."
" You are nicer than I am," said Sara. " I was too proud
to try and make friends. You see, now that trials have
come, they have shown that I am not a nice child. I was
afraid they would. Perhaps " — wrinkling her forehead
wisely — " that is what they were sent for."
" I don't see any good in them," said Ermengarde,
"Neither do I — to speak the truth," admitted Sara,
frankly. " But I suppose there might be good in things,
even if we don't see it. There 7wz^/ii"— doubtfully— "be
good in Miss Minchin."
Ermengarde looked round the attic with a rather fear-
" Sara," she said, " do you think you can bear living
Sara looked round also.
" If I pretend it 's quite different, I can," she answered;
"or if I pretend it is a place in a story."
She spoke slowly. Her imagination was beginning to
work for her. It had not worked for her at all since her
troubles had come upon her. She had felt as if it had been
IN THE ATTIC 109
" Other people have lived in worse places. Think of the
Count of IMonte Cristo in the dungeons of the Chateau
d'lf . And think of the people in the Bastille ! "
" The Bastille," half whispered Ermengarde, watching
her and beginning to be fascinated. She remembered sto-
ries of the French Revolution which Sara had been able to
fix in her mind by her dramatic relation of them. No one
but Sara could have done it.
A well-known glow came into Sara's eyes.
" Yes," she said, hugging her knees. " That will be a
good place to pretend about. I am a prisoner in the Bas-
tille. I have been here for years and years — and years;
and everybody has forgotten about me. Miss Minchin is
the jailer— and Becky"— a sudden light adding itself to
the glow in her eyes— "Becky is the prisoner in the next
She turned to Ermengarde, looking quite like the old
" I shall pretend that," she said ; " and it will be a great
Ermengarde was at once enraptured and awed.
" And will you tell me all about it? " she said. " May I
creep up here at night, whenever it is safe, and hear the
things you have made up in the day ? It will seem as if we
were more ' best friends ' than ever."
" Yes," answered Sara, nodding. " Adversity tries peo-
ple, and mine has tried you and proved how nice you are."
THE third person in the trio was Lottie. She was
a small thing and did not know what adversity
meant, and was much bewildered by the alteration
she saw in her young adopted mother. She had heard it
rumored that strange things had happened to Sara, but she
could not understand why she looked different — why she
wore an old black frock and came into the school-room
only to teach instead of to sit in her place of honor and
learn lessons herself. There had been much whispering
among the little ones when it had been discovered that Sara
no longer lived in the rooms in which Emily had so long sat
in state. Lottie's chief difficulty was that Sara said so little
when one asked her questions. At seven mysteries must
be made very clear if one is to understand them.
"Are you veiy poor now, Sara?" she had asked confi-
dentially the first morning her friend took charge of the
small French class. " Are you as poor as a beggar? " She
thrust a fat hand into the slim one and opened round, tear-
ful eyes. " I don't want you to be as poor as a beggar."
She looked as if she was going to cry, and Sara hur-
riedly consoled her.
*' Beggars have nowhere to hve," she said courageously.
"I have a place to live in."
" Where do you live? " persisted Lottie. " The new girl
sleeps in your room, and it is n't pretty any more."
" I live in another room," said Sara.
" Is it a nice one? " inquired Lottie. " I want to go and
" You must not talk," said Sara. " Miss Minchin is
looking at us. She will be angry with me for letting you
She had found out already that she was to be held ac-
countable for everything which was objected to. If the
children were not attentive, if they talked, if they were
restless, it was she who would be reproved.
But Lottie was a determined little person. If Sara
would not tell her where she lived, she would find out in
some other way. She talked to her small companions and
hung about the elder girls and listened when they were gos-
siping; and acting upon certain information they had un-
consciously let drop, she started late one afternoon on a
voyage of discovery, climbing stairs she had never known
the existence of, until she reached the attic floor. There she
found two doors near each other, and opening one, she saw
her beloved Sara standing upon an old table and looking
out of a window.
" Sara! " she cried, aghast. " Mamma Sara! " She was
aghast because the attic was so bare and ugly and seemed
so far away from all the world. Her short legs had seemed
to have been mounting hundreds of stairs.
112 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Sara turned round at the sound of her voice. It was
her turn to be aghast. What would happen now ? If Lot-
tie began to cry and any one chanced to hear, they were
both lost. She jumped down from her table and ran to the
" Don't cry andmake a noise," she implored. " I shall be
scolded if you do, and I have been scolded all day. It 's—
it 's not such a bad room, Lottie."
"Is n't it?" gasped Lottie, and as she looked round it
she bit her lip. She was a spoiled child yet, but she was
fond enough of her adopted parent to make an effort to
control herself for her sake. Then, somehow, it was quite
possible that any place in which Sara lived might turn out
to be nice. "Why is n't it, Sara?" she almost whispered.
Sara hugged her close and tried to laugh. There was a
sort of comfort in the warmth of the plump, childish body.
She had had a hard day and had been staring out of the
windows with hot eyes.
" You can see all sorts of things you can't see down-
stairs," she said.
" What sort of things? " demanded Lottie, with that curi-
osity Sara could always awaken even in bigger girls.
" Chimneys— quite close to us— with smoke curling up in
wreaths and clouds and going up into the sky, — and spar-
rows hoj)ping about and talking to each other just as if
they were people, — and other attic windows where heads
may pop out any minute and you can wonder who they be-
long to. And it all feels as high up— as if it was another
The sparrows twittered and hopped about ciuite witliout fear.
"Oh, let me see it!" cried Lottie. "Lift me up!"
Sara lifted her up, and thej^ stood on the old table to-
gether and leaned on the edge of the flat window in the
roof, and looked out.
Any one who has not done this does not know what a
different world they saw. The slates spread out on either
side of them and slanted down into the rain gutter-pipes.
The sparrows, being at home there, twittered and hopped
about quite without fear. Two of them perched on the
chimney-top nearest and quarrelled with each other fiercely
until one pecked the other and drove him away. The gar-
ret window next to theirs was shut because the house next
door was empty.
" I wish some one lived there," Sara said. " It is so close
that if there was a little girl in the attic, we could talk to
each other through the windows and climb over to see each
other, if we were not afraid of falling."
The sky seemed so much nearer than when one saw it
from the street, that Lottie was enchanted. From the attic
window, among the chimney-pots, the things which were
happening in the world below seemed almost unreal. One
scarcely believed in the existence of Miss Minchin and
Miss Amelia and the school-room, and the roll of wheels in
the square seemed a sound belonging to another existence.
" Oh, Sara! " cried Lottie, cuddling in her guarding arm.
" I like this attic — I like it! It is nicer than down-stairs! "
" Look at that sparrow," whispered Sara. " I wish I
had some crumbs to throw to him."
"I have some!" came in a little shriek from Lottie.
114 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" I have part of a bun in my pocket ; I bought it with my
penny yesterday, and I saved a bit."
When they threw out a few crumbs the sparrow jumped
and flew away to an adjacent chimney-top. He was evi-
dently not accustomed to intimates in attics, and unex-
pected crumbs startled him. But when Lottie remained
quite still and Sara chirped very softly — almost as if she
were a sparrow herself— he saw that the thing which had
alarmed him represented hospitality, after all. He put his
head on one side, and from his perch on the chimney looked
down at the crumbs with twinkling eyes. Lottie could
scarcely keep still.
"Will he come? Will he come?" she whispered.
" His eyes look as if he would," Sara whispered back.
" He is thinking and thinking whether he dare. Yes, he
will! Yes, he is coming!"
He flew down and hopped toward the crumbs, but
stopped a few inches away from them, putting his head on
one side again, as if reflecting on the chances that Sara and
Lottie might turn out to be big cats and jump on him. At
last his heart told him they were really nicer than they
looked, and he hopped nearer and nearer, darted at the
biggest crumb with a lightning peck, seized it, and carried
it away to the other side of his chimney.
" Now he knows/' said Sara. " And he will come back
for the others."
He did come back, and even brought a friend, and the
friend went away and brought a relative, and among them
they made a hearty meal over which they twittered and
chattered and exclaimed, stopping every now and then to
put their heads on one side and examine Lottie and Sara.
Lottie was so deHghted that she quite forgot her first
shocked impression of the attic. In fact, when she was
Hfted down from the table and returned to earthly things,
as it were, Sara was able to point out to her many beauties
in the room which she herself would not have suspected the
" It is so little and so high above everything," she said,
"that it is almost like a nest in a tree. The slanting
ceiling is so funny. See, you can scarcely stand up at this
end of the room ; and when the morning begins to come I
can lie in bed and look right up into the sky through that
flat window in the roof. It is like a square patch of light.
If the sun is going to shine, little pink clouds float about,
and I feel as if I could touch them. And if it rains, the
drops patter and patter as if they were saying something
nice. Then if there are stars, you can lie and try to count
how many go into the patch. It takes such a lot. And
just look at that tiny, rusty grate in the corner. If it was
polished and there was a fire in it, just think how nice it
would be. You see, it 's really a beautiful little room."
She was walking round the small place, holding Lottie's
hand and making gestures which described all the beauties
she was making herself see. She quite made Lottie see
them, too. Lottie could always believe in the things Sara
made pictures of.
" You see," she said, " there could be a thick, soft blue
Indian rug on the floor ; and in that corner there could be
116 A LITTLE PRINCESS
a soft little sofa, with cushions to curl up on; and just
over it could be a shelf full of books so that one could
reach them easily ; and there could be a fur rug before the
fire, and hangings on the wall to cover up the whitewash,
and pictures. They would have to be little ones, but they
could be beautiful ; and there could be a lamp with a deep
rose-colored shade; and a table in the middle, with things
to have tea with ; and a little fat copper kettle singing on
the hob; and the bed could be quite different. It could
be made soft and covered with a lovely silk coverlet. It
could be beautiful. And perhaps we could coax the spar-
rows until we made such friends with them that they would
come and peck at the window and ask to be let in."
" Oh, Sara! " cried Lottie; " I should like to live here! "
When Sara had persuaded her to go down-stairs again,
and, after setting her in her way, had come back to her attic,
she stood in the middle of it and looked about her. The
enchantment of her imaginings for Lottie had died away.
The bed was hard and covered with its dingy quilt. The
whitewashed wall showed its broken patches, the floor was
cold and bare, the grate was broken and rusty, and the
battered footstool, tilted sideways on its injured leg, the
only seat in the room. She sat down on it for a few min-
utes and let her head drop in her hands. The mere fact that
Lottie had come and gone away again made things seem a
little worse — just as perhaps prisoners feel a little more
desolate after visitors come and go, leaving them behind.
" It 's a lonely place," she said. " Sometimes it 's the
loneliest place in the world."
She was sitting in this way when her attention was at-
tracted by a shght sound near her. She hfted her head to
see where it came from, and if she had been a nervous
child she would have left her seat on the battered footstool
in a great hurry. A large rat was sitting up on his hind
quarters and sniffing the air in an interested manner.
Some of Lottie's crumbs had dropped upon the floor and
their scent had drawn him out of his hole.
He looked so queer and so like a gray-whiskered dwarf
or gnome that Sara was rather fascinated. He looked at
her with his bright eyes, as if he were asking a question.
He was evidently so doubtful that one of the child's queer
thoughts came into her mind.
" I dare say it is rather hard to be a rat," she mused.
" Nobody likes you. People jump and run away and
scream out, ' Oh, a horrid rat ! ' I should n't like people to
scream and jump and say, 'Oh, a horrid Sara!' the mo-
ment they saw me. And set traps for me, and pretend they
were dinner. It 's so different to be a sparrow. But no-
body asked this rat if he wanted to be a rat when he was
made. Nobody said, 'Would n't you rather be a spar-
She had sat so quietly that the rat had begun to take
courage. He was very much afraid of her, but perhaps he
had a heart like the sparrow and it told him that she was
not a thing which pounced. He was very hungry. He had
a wife and a large family in the wall, and they had had
frightfully bad luck for several days. He had left the
children crying bitterly, and felt he would risk a good
118 A LITTLE PRINCESS
deal for a few crumbs, so he cautiously dropped upon his
" Come on," said Sara; " I 'm not a trap. You can have
them, poor thing! Prisoners in the Bastille used to make
friends with rats. Suppose I make friends with you."
How it is that animals understand things I do not know,
but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is
a language which is not made of words and everything in
the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden
in everything and it can always speak, without even mak-
ing a sound, to another soul. But whatsoever was the rea-
son, the rat knew from that moment that he was safe — even
though he was a rat. He knew that this young human
being sitting on the red footstool would not jump up and
terrify him with wild, sharp noises or throw heavy objects
at him which, if they did not fall and crush him, would send
him limping in his scurry back to his hole. He was really a
very nice rat, and did not mean the least harm. When he
had stood on his hind legs and sniffed the air, with his bright
eyes fixed on Sara, he had hoped that she would understand
this, and would not begin by hating him as an enemy.
When the mysterious thing which speaks without saying
any words told him that she would not, he went softly to-
ward the crumbs and began to eat them. As he did it he
glanced every now and then at Sara, just as the sparrows
had done, and his expression was so very apologetic that
it touched her heart.
She sat and watched him without making any movement.
One crumb was very much larger than the others— in fact.
it could scarcely be called a crumb. It was evident that he
wanted that piece very much, but it lay quite near the foot-
stool and he was still rather timid.
" I believe he wants it to carry to his family in the wall,"
Sara thought. " If I do not stir at all, perhaps he will
come and get it."
She scarcely allowed herself to breathe, she was so
deeply interested. The rat shuffled a little nearer and ate
a few more crumbs, then he stopped and sniffed delicately,
giving a side glance at the occupant of the footstool; then
he darted at the piece of bun with something very like the
sudden boldness of the sparrow, and the instant he had pos-
session of it fled back to the wall, slipped down a crack in
the skirting board, and was gone.
" I knew he wanted it for his children," said Sara. " I
do believe I could make friends with hihi."
A week or so afterward, on one of the rare nights when
Ermengarde found it safe to steal up to the attic, when she
tapped on the door with the tips of her fingers Sara did
not come to her for two or three minutes. There was, in-
deed, such a silence in the room at first that Ermengarde
wondered if she could have fallen asleep. Then, to her sur-
prise, she heard her utter a little, low laugh and speak coax-
ingly to some one.
"There!" Ermengarde heard her say. "Take it and
go home, Melchisedec ! Go home to your wife!"
Almost immediately Sara opened the door, and when she
did so she found Ermengarde standing with alarmed eyes
upon the threshold.
120 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" Who — who arc you talking to, Sara? " she gasped out.
Sara drew her in cautiously, but she looked as if some-
thing pleased and amused her.
" You must promise not to be frightened— not to scream
tlie least bit, or I can't tell you," she answered.
Ermengarde felt almost inclined to scream on the spot,
but managed to control herself. She looked all round the
attic and saw no one. And yet Sara had certainly been
sjDcaking to some one. She thought of ghosts.
"Is it— something that will frighten me?" she asked
" Some people are afraid of them," said Sara. " I was
at first, — but I am not now."
"Was it— a ghost?" quaked Ermengarde.
" No," said Sara, laughing. " It was my rat."
Ermengarde made one bound, and landed in the middle
of the little dingy bed. She tucked her feet under her
night-gown and the red shawl. She did not scream, but she
gasped with fright.
" Oh ! oh ! " she cried under her breath. " A rat ! A rat ! "
" I was afraid you would be frightened," said Sara.
" But you need n't be. I am making him tame. He ac-
tually knows me and comes out when I call him. Are you
too frightened to want to see him?"
The truth was that, as the days had gone on and, with the
aid of scraps brought up from the kitchen, her curious
friendship had developed, she had gradually forgotten that
the timid creature she was becoming familiar with was a
At first Ermengarde was too much alarmed to do any-
thing but huddle in a heap upon the bed and tuck up her
feet, but the sight of Sara's composed little countenance
and the story of Melchisedec's first appearance began at
last to rouse her curiosity, and she leaned forward over the
edge of the bed and watched Sara go and kneel down by
the hole in the skirting board.
" He— he won't run out quickly and jump on the bed,
will he?" she said.
" No," answered Sara. " He 's as polite as we are. He
is just like a person. Now watch!"
She began to make a low, whistling sound — so low and
coaxing that it could only have been heard in entire still-
ness. She did it several times, looking entirely absorbed
in it. Ermengarde thought she looked as if she were work-
ing a spell. And at last, evidently in response to it,
a gray-whiskered, bright-eyed head peeped out of the
hole. Sara had some crumbs in her hand. She dropped
them, and Melchisedec came quietly forth and ate
them. A piece of larger size than the rest he took
and carried in the most businesslike manner back to his
" You see," said Sara, " that is for his wife and children.
He is very nice. He only eats the little bits. After he goes
back I can always hear his family squeaking for joy.
There are three kinds of squeaks. One kind is the chil-
dren's, and one is Mrs. Melchisedec's, and one is Mel-
Ermengarde began to laugh.
122 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"Oh, Sara!" she said. "You are queer,— but you are
" I know I am queer," admitted Sara, cheerfully; " and
I try to be nice." She rubbed her forehead with her little
brown paw, and a puzzled, tender look came into her face.
"Papa always laughed at me," she said; "but I liked it.
He thought I was queer, but he liked me to make up
things. I— I can't help making up things. If I did n't, I
don't believe I could live." She paused and glanced round
the attic. " I 'm sure I could n't hve here," she added in a
Ermengarde was interested, as she always was. " When
you talk about things," she said, " they seem as if they grew
real. You talk about Melchisedec as if he was a person."
"He is a person," said Sara. "He gets hungry and
frightened, just as we do; and he is married and has chil-
dren. How do we know he does n't think things, just as we
do? His eyes look as if he was a person. That was why
I gave him a name."
She sat down on the floor in her favorite attitude, hold-
ing her knees.
" Besides," she said, " he is a Bastille rat sent to be my
friend. I can always get a bit of bread the cook has thrown
away, and it is quite enough to support him."
"Is it the Bastille yet?" asked Ermengarde, eagerly.
"Do you always pretend it is the Bastille?"
" Nearly always," answered Sara. " Sometimes I try to
pretend it is another kind of place; but the Bastille is
generally easiest— particularly when it is cold."
Just at that moment Ermengarde almost jumped oiF the
bed, she was so startled by a sound she heard. It was like
two distinct knocks on the wall.
"What is that?" she exclaimed.
Sara got up from the floor and answered quite dramati-
"It is the prisoner in the next cell."
"Becky!" cried Ermengarde, enraptured.
"Yes," said Sara. "Listen; the two knocks meant,
'Prisoner, are you there?'"
She knocked three times on the wall herself, as if in
" That means, ' Yes, I am here, and all is well.' "
Four knocks came from Becky's side of the wall.
" That means," explained Sara, " ' Then, fellow-suf-
ferer, we will sleep in peace. Good-night.' "
Ermengarde quite beamed with delight.
"Oh, Sara!" she whispered joyfully. "It is like a
" It is a story," said Sara. " Everything 's a story. You
are a story — I am a story. Miss Minchin is a story."
And she sat down again and talked until Ermengarde
forgot that she was a sort of escaped prisoner herself, and
had to be reminded by Sara that she could not remain in
the Bastille all night, but must steal noiselessly down-stairs
again and creep back into her deserted bed.
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN
BUT it was a perilous thing for Ermengarde and
Lottie to make pilgrimages to the attic. They could
never be quite sure when Sara would be there, and
they could scarcely ever be certain that Miss Amelia would
not make a tour of inspection through the bedrooms after
the pupils were supposed to be asleep. So their visits were
rare ones, and Sara lived a strange and lonely life. It was
a lonelier life when she was down-stairs than when she was
in her attic. She had no one to talk to ; and when she was
sent out on errands and walked through the streets, a for-
lorn little figure carrying a basket or a parcel, trying to
hold her hat on when the wind was blowing, and feehng
the water soak through her shoes when it was raining, she
felt as if the crowds hurrying past her made her loneliness
greater. When she had been the Princess Sara, driving
through the streets in her brougham, or walking, attended
by Mariette, the sight of her bright, eager little face and
picturesque coats and hats had often caused people to look
after her. A happy, beautifully cared for little girl natu-
rally attracts attention. Shabby, poorly dressed children
are not rare enough and pretty enough to make people turn
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 125
around to look at them and smile. No one looked at Sara
in these days, and no one seemed to see her as she hurried
along the crowded pavements. She had begun to grow
very fast, and, as she was dressed onty in such clothes as the
plainer remnants of her wardrobe would supply, she knew
she looked very queer, indeed. All her valuable garments
had been disposed of, and such as had been left for her use
she was expected to wear so long as she could put them on
at all. Sometimes, when she passed a shop window with
a mirror in it, she almost laughed outright on catching a
glimpse of herself, and sometimes her face went red and
she bit her lip and turned away.
In the evening, when she passed houses whose windows
were lighted up, she used to look into the warm rooms and
amuse herself by imagining things about the people she
saw sitting before the fires or about the tables. It always
interested her to catch glimpses of rooms before the shut-
ters were closed. There were several families in the
square in which Miss Minchin lived, with which she had
become quite familiar in a way of her own. The one she
liked best she called the Large Family. She called it the
Large Family not because the members of it were big, —
for, indeed, most of them were little, — but because there
were so many of them. There were eight children in the
Large Family, and a stout, rosy mother, and a stout, rosy
father, and a stout, rosy grandmother, and any number of
servants. The eight children were always either being
taken out to walk or to ride in perambulators by comfort-
able nurses, or they were going to drive with their mamma,
126 A LITTLE PRINCESS
or they were flying to the door in the evening to meet their
papa and kiss him and dance around him and drag off
his overcoat and look in the pockets for packages, or they
were crowding about the nursery windows and looking out
and pushing each other and laughing— in fact, they were
always doing something enjoyable and suited to the tastes
of a large family. Sara was quite fond of them, and had
given them names out of books— quite romantic names.
She called them the Montmorencys when she did not call
them the Large Family. The fat, fair baby with the lace
cap was Ethelberta Beauchamp Montmorency; the next
baby was Violet Cholmondeley JNIontmorency ; the little
boy who could just stagger and who had such round
legs was Sydney Cecil Vivian Montmorency; and then
came Lilian Evangeline ]Maud Marion, Rosalind Gladys,
Guy Clarence, Veronica Eustacia, and Claude Harold
One evening a very funny thing happened — though,
perhaps, in one sense it was not a funny thing at all.
Several of the Montmorencys were evidently going to
a children's party, and just as Sara was about to pass the
door they were crossing the pavement to get into the car-
riage which was waiting for them. Veronica Eustacia and
Rosalind Gladys, in white-lace frocks and lovely sashes,
had just got in, and Guy Clarence, aged five, was follow-
ing them. He was such a pretty fellow and had such rosy
cheeks and blue eyes, and such a darling little round head
covered with curls, that Sara forgot her basket and shabby
cloak altogether— in fact, forgot everything but that she
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 127
wanted to look at him for a moment. So she paused and
It was Christmas time, and the Large Family had been
hearing many stories about children who were poor and
had no mammas and papas to fill their stockings and
take them to the pantomime — children who were, in fact,
cold and thinly clad and hungry. In the stories, kind
people — sometimes little boys and girls with tender hearts
— invariably saw the poor children and gave them money
or rich gifts, or took them home to beautiful dinners. Guy
Clarence had been affected to tears that very afternoon
by the reading of such a story, and he had burned with a
desire to find such a poor child and give her a certain six-
pence he possessed, and thus provide for her for life. An
entire sixpence, he was sure, would mean affluence for ever-
more. As he crossed the strip of red carpet laid across
the pavement from the door to the carriage, he had this
very sixpence in the pocket of his very short man-o'-war
trousers. And just as Rosalind Gladys got into the vehi-
cle and jumped on to the seat in order to feel the cushions
spring under her, he saw Sara standing on the wet pave-
ment in her shabby frock and hat, with her old basket on
her arm, looking at him hungrily.
He thought that her eyes looked hungiy because she
had perhaps had nothing to eat for a long time. He did
not know that they looked so because she was hungry for
the warm, merry life his home held and his rosy face spoke
of, and that she had a hungry wish to snatch him in her
arms and kiss him. He only knew that she had big eyes
128 A LITTLE PRINCESS
and a thin face and thin legs and a common basket and poor
clothes. So he put his hand in his pocket and found his
sixpence and walked up to her benignly.
" Here, poor little girl," he said. " Here is a sixjjence.
I will give it to you."
Sara started, and all at once realized that she looked ex-
actly like poor children she had seen, in her better days,
waiting on the pavement to watch her as she got out of her
brougham. And she had given them pennies many a time.
Her face went red and then it went pale, and for a second
she felt as if she could not take the dear little sixpence.
"Oh, no!" she said. "Oh, no, thank you; I must n't
take it, indeed! "
Her voice was so unlike an ordinary street child's voice
and her manner was so like the manner of a well-bred little
person that Veronica Eustacia (whose real name was
Janet) and Rosalind Gladys (who was really called Nora)
leaned forward to listen.
But Guy Clarence was not to be thwarted in his benevo-
lence. He thrust the sixpence into her hand.
"Yes, you must take it, poor little girl!" he insisted
stoutly. " You can buy things to eat with it. It is a whole
There was something so honest and kind in his face, and
he looked so likely to be heartbrokenly disappointed if she
did not take it, that Sara knew she must not refuse him.
To be as proud as that would be a cruel thing. So she
actually put her pride in her pocket, though it must be
admitted her cheeks burned.
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 129
" Thank you," she said. " You are a kind, kind Httle
darhng thing." And as he scrambled joyfully into the
carriage she went away, trying to smile, though she caught
her breath quickly and her eyes were shining through a
mist. She had known that she looked odd and shabby,
but until now she had not known that she might be taken
for a beggar.
As the Large Family's carriage drove away, the chil-
dren inside it were talking with interested excitement.
"Oh, Donald" (this was Guy Clarence's name), Janet
exclaimed alarmedly, " why did you offer that little
girl your sixpence? I 'm sure she is not a beggar! "
"She did n't speak like a beggar!" cried Nora; "and
her face did n't really look like a beggar's face!"
" Besides, she did n't beg," said Janet. " I was so afraid
she might be angry with you. You know, it makes people
angry to be taken for beggars when they are not beggars."
" She was n't angry," said Donald, a trifle dismayed, but
still firm. "She laughed a little, and she said I was a kind,
kind little darling thing. And I was ! "—stoutly. " It was
my whole sixpence."
Janet and Nora exchanged glances.
" A beggar girl would never have said that," decided
Janet. " She would have said, ' Thank yer kindly, little
gentleman — thank yer, sir'; and perhaps she would have
bobbed a courtesy."
Sara knew nothing about the fact, but from that time
the Large Family was as profoundly interested in her as
she was in it. Faces used to appear at the nursery windows
130 A LITTLE PRINCESS
when she passed, and many discussions concerning her
were held round the fire.
" She is a kind of servant at the seminary," Janet said.
" I don't beheve she belongs to anybody. I believe she is
an orphan. But she is not a beggar, however shabby she
And afterward she was called by all of them, " The-
little-girl-who-is-not-a-beggar," which was, of course,
rather a long name, and sounded very funny sometimes
when the youngest ones said it in a hurry.
Sara managed to bore a hole in the sixpence and hung
it on an old bit of narrow ribbon round her neck. Her
aifection for the Large Family increased— as, indeed, her
affection for everything she could love increased. She
grew fonder and fonder of Becky, and she used to look
forward to the two mornings a week when she went into
the school-room to give the little ones their French lesson.
Her small pupils loved her, and strove with each other for
the privilege of standing close to her and insinuating their
small hands into hers. It fed her hungry heart to feel them
nestling up to her. She made such friends with the spar-
rows that when she stood upon the table, put her head and
shoulders out of the attic window, and chirped, she heard
almost immediately a flutter of wings and answering twit-
ters, and a little flock of dingy town birds appeared and
alighted on the slates to talk to her and make much of the
crumbs she scattered. With ^lelchisedec she had become
so intimate that he actually brought INIrs. JMelchisedec with
him sometimes, and now and then one or two of his chil-
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 131
dren. She used to talk to him, and, somehow, he looked
quite as if he understood.
There had grown in her mind rather a strange feeling
about Emily, who always sat and looked on at everything.
It arose in one of her moments of great desolateness. She
would have liked to believe or pretend to believe that Emily
understood and sympathized with her. She did not like to
own to herself that her only companion could feel and hear
nothing. She used to put her in a chair sometimes and
sit opposite to her on the old red footstool, and stare and
pretend about her until her own eyes would grow large
with something which was almost like fear— particularly
at night when everything was so still, when the only
sound in the attic was the occasional sudden scurry and
squeak of Melchisedec's family in the wall. One of her
*' pretends " was that Emily was a kind of good witch who
could protect her. Sometimes, after she had stared at her
until she was wrought up to the highest pitch of fanciful-
ness, she would ask her questions and find herself almost
feeling as if she would presently answer. But she never
" As to answering, though," said Sara, trying to console
herself, " I don't answer very often. I never answer when
I can help it. When people are insulting you, there is
nothing so good for them as not to say a word— just to
look at them and think. Miss INIinchin turns pale with
rage when I do it. Miss Amelia looks frightened, and so
do the girls. When you will not fly into a passion people
know you are stronger than they are, because you are
132 A LITTLE PRINCESS
strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and
they say stupid things they wish they had n't said after-
ward. There 's nothing so strong as rage, except what
makes you hold it in— that 's stronger. It 's a good thing
not to answer your enemies. I scarcely ever do. Perhaps
Emily is more like me than I am like myself. Perhaps she
would rather not answer her friends, even. She keeps it all
in her heart."
But though she tried to satisfy herself with these argu-
ments, she did not find it easy. When, after a long, hard
day, in which she had been sent here and there, sometimes
on long errands through wind and cold and rain, she came
in wet and hungry, and was sent out again because nobody
chose to remember that she was only a child, and that
her slim legs might be tired and her small body might
be chilled; when she had been given only harsh words and
cold, slighting looks for thanks; when the cook had been
vulgar and insolent; when Miss Minchin had been in her
worst mood, and when she had seen the girls sneering
among themselves at her shabbiness — then she was not
always able to comfort her sore, proud, desolate heart with
fancies when Emily merely sat upright in her old chair
One of these nights, when she came up to the attic cold
and hungry, with a tempest raging in her young breast,
Emily's stare seemed so vacant, her sawdust legs and arms
so inexpressive, that Sara lost all control over herself.
There was nobody but Emily— no one in the world. And
there she sat.
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 133
" I shall die presently," she said at first.
Emily simply stared.
" I can't bear this," said the poor child, trembling. " I
know I shall die. I 'm cold; I 'm wet; I 'm starving to
death. I 've walked a thousand miles to-day, and they
have done nothing but scold me from morning until night.
And because I could not find that last thing the cook sent
me for, they would not give me any supper. Some men
laughed at me because my old shoes made me slip down in
the mud. I 'm covered with mud now. And they laughed.
Do you hear?"
She looked at the staring glass eyes and complacent face,
and suddenly a sort of heartbroken rage seized her. She
lifted her little savage hand and knocked Emily off the
chair, bursting into a passion of sobbing, — Sara who never
" You are nothing but a doll!'' she cried; " nothing but
a doll — doll — doll! You care for nothing. You are
stuffed with sawdust. You never had a heart. Nothing
could ever make you feel. You are a doll!"
Emily lay on the floor, with her legs ignominiously
doubled up over her head, and a new flat place on the end
of her nose; but she was calm, even dignified. Sara hid
her face in her arms. The rats in the wall began to fight
and bite each other and squeak and scramble. Melchise-
dec was chastising some of his family.
Sara's sobs gradually quieted themselves. It was so un-
like her to break down that she was surprised at herself.
After a while she raised her face and looked at Emily,
134 A LITTLE PRINCESS
who seemed to be gazing at her round the side of one angle,
and, somehow, by this time actually with a kind of glassy-
eyed sympathy. Sara bent and picked her up. Remorse
overtook her. She even smiled at herself a very little
" You can't help being a doll," she said with a resigned
sigh, " any more than Lavinia and Jessie can help not hav-
ing any sense. We are not all made alike. Perhaps you
do your sawdust best." And she kissed her and shook
her clothes straight, and put her back upon her chair.
She had wished very much that some one would take the
empty house next door. She wished it because of the
attic window which was so near hers. It seemed as if it
would be so nice to see it propped open some day and a
head and shoulders rising out of the square aperture.
" If it looked a nice head," she thought, " I might begin
by saying, ' Good morning,' and all sorts of things might
happen. But, of course, it 's not really likely that any one
but under servants would sleep there."
One morning, on turning the corner of the square after
a visit to the grocer's, the butcher's, and the baker's, she saw,
to her great delight, that during her rather prolonged ab-
sence, a van full of furniture had stopped before the next
house, the front doors were thrown open, and men in shirt
sleeves were going in and out carrying heavy packages and
pieces of furniture.
" It 's taken! " she said. " It really is taken! Oh, I do
hope a nice head will look out of the attic window! "
She would almost have liked to join the group of loi-
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 135
terers who had stopped on the pavement to watch the
things carried in. She had an idea that if she could see
some of the furniture she could guess something about the
people it belonged to.
" Miss ^linchin's tables and chairs are just like her," she
thought; "I remember thinking that the first minute I
saw her, even though I was so little. I told papa after-
ward, and he laughed and said it was true. I am sure the
Large Family have fat, comfortable arm-chairs and sofas,
and I can see that their red-flowery wall-paper is exactly
like them. It 's warm and cheerful and kind-looking and
She was sent out for parsley to the greengrocer's later
in the day, and when she came up the area steps her heart
gave quite a quick beat of recognition. Several pieces of
furniture had been set out of the van upon the pavement.
There was a beautiful table of elaborately wrought teak-
wood, and some chairs, and a screen covered with rich Ori-
ental embroidery. The sight of them gave her a weird,
homesick feeling. She had seen things so like them in
India. One of the things JNIiss Minchin had taken from
her was a carved teak- wood desk her father had sent her.
" They are beautiful things," she said; "they look as if
they ought to belong to a nice person. All the things look
rather grand. I suppose it is a rich family."
The vans of furniture came and were unloaded and gave
place to others all the day. Several times it so happened
that Sara had an opportunity of seeing things carried in.
It became plain that she had been right in guessing that the
136 A LITTLE PRINCESS
new-comers were people of large means. All the furniture
was rich and beautiful, and a great deal of it was Oriental.
Wonderful rugs and draperies and ornaments were taken
from the vans, many pictures, and books enough for a li-
brary. Among other things there was a superb god
Buddha in a splendid shrine.
" Some one in the family must have been in India," Sara
thought. " They have got used to Indian things and like
them. I am glad. I shall feel as if they were friends, even
if a head never looks out of the attic window."
When she was taking in the evening's milk for the cook
(there was really no odd job she was not called upon to
do) , she saw something occur which made the situation
more interesting than ever. The handsome, rosy man who
was the father of the Large Family walked across the
square in the most matter-of-fact manner, and ran up the
steps of the next-door house. He ran up them as if he felt
quite at home and expected to run up and down them
many a time in the future. He stayed inside quite a long
time, and several times came out and gave directions to the
workmen, as if he had a right to do so. It was quite certain
that he was in some intimate way connected with the new-
comers and was acting for them.
" If the new people have children," Sara speculated,
" the Large Family children will be sure to come and play
with them, and they might come up into the attic just for
At night, after her work was done, Becky came in to see
her fellow-prisoner and bring her news.
THE INDIAN GENTLEMAN 137
" It 's a' Nindian gentleman that 's comin' to live next
door, miss," she said. " I don't know whether he 's a black
gentleman or not, but he 's a Nindian one. He 's very rich,
an' he 's ill, an' the gentleman of the Large Family is his
lawyer. He 's had a lot of trouble, an' it 's made him ill an'
low in his mind. He worships idols, miss. He 's an 'eathen
an' bows down to wood an' stone. I seen a' idol bein' car-
ried in for him to worship. Somebody had oughter send
him a trac'. You can get a trac' for a penny."
Sara laughed a little.
" I don't believe he worships that idol," she said; "some
people like to keep them to look at because they are in-
teresting. My papa had a beautiful one, and he did not
But Becky was rather inclined to prefer to believe that
the new neighbor was " an 'eathen." It sounded so much
more romantic than that he should merely be the ordinary
kind of gentleman who went to church with a prayer-book.
She sat and talked long that night of what he would be like,
of what his wife would be like if he had one, and of what
his children would be like if they had children. Sara saw
that privately she could not help hoping very much that
they would all be black, and would wear turbans, and,
above all, that— like their parent — they would all be
" I never lived next door to no 'eathens, miss," she said;
" I should like to see what sort o' ways they 'd have."
It was several weeks before her curiosity was satisfied,
and then it was revealed that the new occupant had neither
138 A LITTLE PRINCESS
wife nor children. He was a solitary man with no family
at all, and it was evident that he was shattered in health
and unhappy in mind.
A carriage drove up one day and stopped before the
house. When the footman dismounted from the box and
opened the door the gentleman who was the father of the
Large Family got out first. After him there descended
a nurse in uniform, then came down the steps two men-
servants. They came to assist their master, who, when he
was helped out of the carriage, proved to be a man with a
haggard, distressed face, and a skeleton body wrapped in
furs. He was carried up the steps, and the head of the
Large Family went with him, looking very anxious.
Shortly afterward a doctor's carriage arrived, and the doc-
tor went in — plainly to take care of him.
" There is such a yellow gentleman next door, Sara,"
Lottie whispered at the French class afterward. " Do you
think he is a Chinee? The geography says the Chinee men
"No, he is not Chinese," Sara whispered back; "he is
very ill. Go on with your exercise, Lottie. ' Non, mon-
sieur. Je nai pas le canif cle mon oncle.'"
That was the beginning of the story of the Indian gen-
THERE were fine sunsets even in the square, some-
times. One could only see parts of them, how-
ever, between the chimneys and over the roofs.
From the kitchen windows one could not see them at all,
and could only guess that they were going on because the
bricks looked warm and the air rosy or yellow for a while,
or perhaps one saw a blazing glow strike a particular pane
of glass somewhere. There was, however, one place from
which one could see all the splendor of them: the piles of
red or gold clouds in the west; or the purple ones edged
with dazzling brightness ; or the little fleecy, floating ones,
tinged with rose-color and looking like flights of pink
doves scurrying across the blue in a great hurry if there
was a wind. The place where one could see all this, and
seem at the same time to breathe a purer air, was, of course,
the attic window. When the square suddenly seemed to
begin to glow in an enchanted way and look wonderful
in spite of its sooty trees and railings, Sara knew some-
thing was going on in the sky ; and when it was at all pos-
sible to leave the kitchen without being missed or called
back, she invariably stole away and crept up the flights of
140 A LITTLE PRINCESS
stairs, and, climbing on the old table, got her head and
body as far out of the window as possible. When she had
accomplished this, she alwa3''s drew a long breath and
looked all round her. It used to seem as if she had all the
sky and the world to herself. No one else ever looked out
of the other attics. Generally the skylights were closed;
but even if they were propped open to admit air, no one
seemed to come near them. And there Sara would stand,
sometimes turning her face upward to the blue which
seemed so friendly and near, — just like a lovely vaulted
ceiling, — sometimes watching the west and all the wonder-
ful things that happened there: the clouds melting or drift-
ing or waiting softly to be changed pink or crimson or
snow-white or purple or pale dove-gray. Sometimes they
made islands or great mountains enclosing lakes of deep
turquoise-blue, or liquid amber, or chrysoprase-green ;
sometimes dark headlands jutted into strange, lost seas;
sometimes slender strips of wonderful lands joined other
wonderful lands together. There were places where it
seemed that one could run or climb or stand and wait to see
what next was coming— until, perhaps, as it all melted, one
could float away. At least it seemed so to Sara, and no-
thing had ever been quite so beautiful to her as the things
she saw as she stood on the table— her body half out of the
skylight — the sparrows twittering with sunset softness on
the slates. The sparrows always seemed to her to twitter
with a sort of subdued softness just when these marvels
were going on.
There was such a sunset as this a few days after the In-
RAM DASS 141
dian gentleman was brought to his new home; and, as it
fortunately happened that the afternoon's work was done
in the kitchen and nobody had ordered her to go anywhere
or perform any task, Sara found it easier than usual to slip
away and go up-stairs.
She mounted her table and stood looking out. It was
a wonderful moment. There were floods of molten gold
covering the west, as if a glorious tide was sweeping over
the world. A deep, rich yellow light filled the air ; the birds
flying across the tops of the houses showed quite black
" It 's a Splendid one," said Sara, softly, to herself. " It
makes me feel almost afraid — as if something strange was
just going to happen. The Splendid ones always make
me feel like that."
She suddenly turned her head because she heard a sound
a few yards away from her. It was an odd sound like a
queer little squeaky chattering. It came from the win-
dow of the next attic. Some one had come to look at the
sunset as she had. There was a head and part of a body
emerging from the skylight, but it was not the head or
body of a little girl or a housemaid ; it was the picturesque
white-swathed form and dark-faced, gleaming-eyed,
white-turbaned head of a native Indian man-servant,— "a
Lascar," Sara said to herself quickly,— and the sound she
had heard came from a small monkey he held in his arms
as if he were fond of it, and which was snuggling and
chattering against his breast.
As Sara looked toward him he looked toward her. The
142 A LITTLE PRINCESS
first thing she thought was that his dark face looked sor-
rowful and homesick. She felt absolutely sure he had
come up to look at the sun, because he had seen it so seldom
in England that he longed for a sight of it. She looked at
him interestedly for a second, and then smiled across the
slates. She had learned to know how comforting a smile,
even from a stranger, may be.
Hers was evidently a pleasure to him. His whole ex-
pression altered, and he showed such gleaming white
teeth as he smiled back that it was as if a light had been
illuminated in his dusky face. The friendly look in Sara's
eyes was always very effective when people felt tired or
It was perhaps in making his salute to her that he loos-
ened his hold on the monkey. He was an impish monkey
and always ready for adventure, and it is probable that the
sight of a little girl excited him. He suddenly broke loose,
jumped on to the slates, ran across them chattering, and
actually leaped on to Sara's shoulder, and from there
down into her attic room. It made her laugh and de-
lighted her; but she knew he must be restored to his mas-
ter, — if the Lascar was his master, — and she wondered how
this was to be done. Would he let her catch him, or would
he be naughty and refuse to be caught, and perhaps get
away and run off over the roofs and be lost ? That would
not do at all. Perhaps he belonged to the Indian gentle-
man, and the poor man was fond of him.
She turned to the Lascar, feeling glad that she remem-
bered still some of the Hindustani she had learned when
RAM DASS 143
she lived with her father. She could make the man un-
derstand. She spoke to him in the language he knew.
" Will he let me catch him? " she asked.
She thought she had never seen more surprise and de-
light than the dark face expressed when she spoke in the
familiar tongue. The truth was that the poor fellow felt
as if his gods had intervened, and the kind little voice came
from heaven itself. At once Sara saw that he had been
accustomed to European children. He poured forth a
flood of respectful thanks. He was the servant of Missee
Sahib. The monkey was a good monkey and would not
bite; but, unfortunately, he was difficult to catch. He
would flee from one spot to another, like the lightning.
He was disobedient, though not evil. Ram Dass knew
him as if he were his child, and Ram Dass he would some-
times obey, but not always. If Missee Sahib would per-
mit Ram Dass, he himself could cross the roof to her room,
enter the windows, and regain the unworthy little animal.
But he was evidently afraid Sara might think he was tak-
ing a great liberty and perhaps would not let him come.
But Sara gave him leave at once.
" Can you get across? " she inquired.
" In a moment," he answered her.
"Then come," she said; "he is flying from side to side
of the room as if he was frightened."
Ram Dass slipped through his attic window and crossed
to hers as steadily and lightly as if he had walked on roofs
all his life. He slipped through the skylight and dropped
upon his feet without a sound. Then he turned to Sara
144 A LITTLE PRINCESS
and salaamed again. The monkey saw him and uttered
a little scream. Ram Dass hastily took the precaution of
shutting the skylight, and then went in chase of him. It
was not a very long chase. The monkey prolonged it a
few minutes evidently for the mere fun of it, but presently
he sprang chattering on to Ram Dass's shoulder and sat
there chattering and clinging to his neck with a weird
little skinny arm.
Ram Dass thanked Sara profoundly. She had seen
that his quick native eyes had taken in at a glance all the
bare shabbiness of the room, but he spoke to her as if he
were speaking to the little daughter of a rajah, and pre-
tended that he observed nothing. He did not presume to
remain more than a few moments after he had caught the'
monkey, and those moments were given to further deep
and grateful obeisance to her in return for her indulgence.
This little evil one, he said, stroking the monkey, was, in
truth, not so evil as he seemed, and his master, Avho was ill,
was sometimes amused by him. He would have been made
sad if his favorite had run away and been lost. Then he
salaamed once more and got through the skylight and
across the slates again with as much agility as the monkey
himself had displayed.
When he had gone Sara stood in the middle of her attic
and thought of many things his face and his manner had
brought back to her. The sight of his native costume and
the profound reverence of his manner stirred all her past
memories. It seemed a strange thing to remember that
she — the drudge whom the cook had said insulting things
RAM DASS 145
to an hour ago— had only a few years ago been surrounded
by people who all treated her as Ram Dass had treated her ;
who salaamed when she went by, whose foreheads almost
touched the ground when she spoke to them, who were her
servants and her slaves. It was like a sort of dream. It
was all over, and it could never come back. It certainly
seemed that there was no way in which any change could
take place. She knew what Miss Minchin intended that
her future should be. So long as she was too young to be
used as a regular teacher, she would be used as an errand
girl and servant and yet expected to remember what she
had learned and in some mysterious way to learn more.
The greater number of her evenings she was supposed to
spend at study, and at various indefinite intervals she was
examined and knew she would have been severely admon-
ished if she had not advanced as was expected of her. The
truth, indeed, was that Miss Minchin knew that she was
too anxious to learn to require teachers. Give her books,
and she would devour them and end by knowing them by
heart. She might be trusted to be equal to teaching a
good deal in the course of a few years. This was what
would happen : when she was older she would be expected
to drudge in the school-room as she drudged now in various
parts of the house ; they would be obliged to give her more
respectable clothes, but they would be sure to be plain and
ugly and to make her look somehow like a servant. That
was all there seemed to be to look forward to, and Sara
stood quite still for several minutes and thought it over.
Then a thought came back to her which made the color
146 A LITTLE PRINCESS
rise in her cheek and a spark hght itself in her eyes. She
straightened her thin httle body and hfted her head.
" Whatever comes," she said, " cannot alter one thing.
If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess
inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed
in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph
to be one all the time when no one knows it. There was
Marie Antoinette when she was in prison and her throne
was gone and she had only a black gown on, and her hair
was white, and they insulted her and called her Widow
Capet. She was a great deal more like a queen then than
when she was so gay and everything was so grand. I like
her best then. Those howling mobs of people did not
frighten her. She was stronger than they were, even when
they cut her head off."
This was not a new thought, but quite an old one, by this
time. It had consoled her through many a bitter day, and
she had gone about the house with an expression in her
face which Miss Minchin could not understand and which
was a source of great annoyance to her, as it seemed as if
the child were mentally living a life which held her above
the rest of the world. It was as if she scarcely heard the
rude and acid things said to her ; or, if she heard them, did
not care for them at all. Sometimes, when she was in the
midst of some harsh, domineering speech, Miss Minchin
would find the still, unchildish eyes fixed upon her with
something like a proud smile in them. At such times she
did not know that Sara was saying to herself :
" You don't know that you are saying these things to a
RAM DASS 147
princess, and that if I chose I could wave my hand and
order you to execution. I only spare you because I am
a princess, and you are a poor, stupid, unkind, vulgar
old thing, and don't know any better."
This used to interest and amuse her more than anything
else; and queer and fanciful as it was, she found comfort
in it and it was a good thing for her. While the thought
held possession of her, she could not be made rude and ma-
licious by the rudeness and malice of those about her.
" A princess must be polite," she said to herself.
And so when the servants, taking their tone from their
mistress, were insolent and ordered her about, she would
hold her head erect and reply to them with a quaint civility
which often made them stare at her.
" She 's got more airs and graces than if she come from
Buckingham Palace, that young one," said the cook,
chuckling a little sometimes; " I lose my temper with her
often enough, but I will say she never forgets her man-
ners. ' If you please, cook; ' ' Will you be so kind, cook? '
'I beg your pardon, cook;' 'May I trouble you, cook?'
She drops 'em about the kitchen as if they was nothing."
The morning after the interview with Ram Dass and his
monkey, Sara was in the school-room with her small j^upils.
Having finished giving them their lessons, she was put-
ting the French exercise-books together and thinking, as
she did it, of the various things royal personages in disguise
were called upon to do: Alfred the Great, for instance,
burning the cakes and getting his ears boxed by the wife
of the neatherd. How frightened she must have been
148 A LITTLE PRINCESS
when she found out what she had done. If Miss Minchin
should find out that she— Sara, whose toes were almost
sticking out of her boots — was a princess — a real one!
The look in her eyes was exactly the look which Miss Min-
chin most disliked. She would not have it; she was quite
near her and was so enraged that she actually flew at her
and boxed her ears — exactly as the neatherd's wife had
boxed King Alfred's. It made Sara start. She wakened
from her dream at the shock, and, catching her breath,
stood still a second. Then, not knowing she was going to
do it, she broke into a little laugh.
" What are you laughing at, you bold, impudent child? "
Miss Minchin exclaimed.
It took Sara a few seconds to control herself sufficiently
to remember that she was a princess. Her cheeks were red
and smarting from the blows she had received.
"I was thinking," she answered.
" Beg my pardon immediately," said Miss Minchin.
Sara hesitated a second before she rephed.
" I will beg your pardon for laughing, if it was rude,"
she said then ; " but I won't beg your pardon for thinking."
"What were you thinking?" demanded Miss Minchin.
" How dare you think? What were you thinking? "
Jessie tittered, and she and Lavinia nudged each other
in unison. All the girls looked up from their books to
listen. Really, it always interested them a little when IMiss
Minchin attacked Sara. Sara always said something
queer, and never seemed the least bit frightened. She was
RAM DASS 149
not in the least frightened now, though her boxed ears
were scarlet and her eyes were as bright as stars.
" I was thinking," she answered grandly and politely,
" that you did not know what you were doing."
"That I did not know what I was doing?" Miss Min-
chin fairly gasped.
" Yes," said Sara, " and I was thinking what would
happen if I were a princess and you boxed my ears— what
I should do to you. And I was thinking that if I were
one, you would never dare to do it, whatever I said or did.
And I was thinking how surprised and frightened you
w^ould be if you suddenly found out — "
She had the imagined future so clearly before her eyes
that she spoke in a manner which had an effect even upon
Miss Minchin. It almost seemed for the moment to her
narrow, unimaginative mind that there must be some real
power hidden behind this candid daring.
"What?" she exclaimed. "Found out what?"
" That I really was a princess," said Sara, " and could
do anything— anything I liked."
Every pair of eyes in the room widened to its full limit.
Lavinia leaned forward on her seat to look.
" Go to your room," cried Miss INIinchin, breathlessly,
"this instant! Leave the school-room! Attend to your
lessons, young ladies!"
Sara made a little bow.
" Excuse me for laughing if it was impolite," she said,
and walked out of the room, leaving Miss Minchin strug-
150 A LITTLE PRINCESS
gling with her rage, and the girls whispering over their
" Did you see her? Did you see how queer she looked? "
Jessie broke out. " I should n't be at all surprised if she
did turn out to be something. Suppose she should! "
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL
WHEN one lives in a row of houses, it is in-
teresting to think of the things which are being
done and said on the other side of the wall of
the very rooms one is hving in. Sara was fond of amus-
ing herself by trying to imagine the things hidden by the
wall which divided the Select Seminary from the Indian
gentleman's house. She knew that the school-room was
next to the Indian gentleman's study, and she hoped that
the wall was thick so that the noise made sometimes after
lesson hours would not disturb him.
" I am growing quite fond of him," she said to Ermen-
garde; "I should not like him to be disturbed. I have
adopted him for a friend. You can do that with people
you never speak to at all. You can just watch them, and
think about them and be sorry for them, until they seem
almost like relations. I 'm quite anxious sometimes when
I see the doctor call twice a day."
" I have very few relations," said Ermengarde, reflec-
tively, "and I 'm very glad of it. I don't like those I
have. My two aunts are always saying, 'Dear me, Er-
mengarde ! You are very fat. You should n't eat sweets,'
152 A LITTLE PRINCESS
and my uncle is always asking me things like, ' When did
Edward the Third ascend the throne? ' and, ' Who died of
a surfeit of lampreys ? ' "
" People you never speak to can't ask you questions like
that," she said; "and I 'm sure the Indian gentleman
would n't even if he was quite intimate with you. I am
fond of him."
She had become fond of the Large Family because they
looked happy; but she had become fond of the Indian
gentleman because he looked unhappy. He had evidently
not fully recovered from some very severe illness. In the
kitchen— where, of course, the servants, through some mys-
terious means, knew everything — there was much discus-
sion of his case. He was not an Indian gentleman really,
but an Englishman who had lived in India. He had met
with great misfortunes which had for a time so imperilled
his whole fortune that he had thought himself ruined and
disgraced forever. The shock had been so great that he
had almost died of brain-fever ; and ever since he had been
shattered in health, though his fortunes had changed and
all his possessions had been restored to him. His trouble
and peril had been connected with mines.
"And mines with diamonds in 'em!" said the cook.
"No savin's of mine never goes into no mines — particular
diamond ones" — with a side glance at Sara. "We all
know somethin' of tliem"
" He felt as my papa felt," Sara thought. " He was ill
as my papa was ; but he did not die."
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL 153
So her heart was more drawn to him than before. When
she was sent out at night she used sometimes to feel quite
glad, because there was always a chance that the curtains
of the house next door might not yet be closed and she
could look into the warm room and see her adopted friend.
When no one was about she used sometimes to stop, and,
holding to the iron railings, wish him good night as if he
could hear her.
" Perhaps you can feel if you can't hear," was her fancy.
" Perhaps kind thoughts reach people somehow, even
through windows and doors and walls. Perhaps you feel
a little warm and comforted, and don't know why, when I
am standing here in the cold and hoping you will get well
and happy again. I am so sorry for you," she would whis-
per in an intense little voice. " I wish you had a ' Little
Missus ' who could pet you as I used to pet papa when he
had a headache. I should hke to be your ' Little ^lissus '
myself, poor dear! Good night— good night. God bless
She would go away, feeling quite comforted and a little
warmer herself. Her sympathy was so strong that it
seemed as if it must reach him somehow as he sat alone in
his arm-chair by the fire, nearly always in a great dressing-
gown, and nearly always with his forehead resting in his
hand as he gazed hopelessly into the fire. He looked to
Sara like a man who had a trouble on his mind still, not
merely like one whose troubles lay all in the past.
" He always seems as if he were thinking of something
that hurts him now," she said to herself; "but he has got
154 A LITTLE PRINCESS
his money back and he will get over his brain-fever in time,
so he ought not to look like that. I wonder if there is
If there was something else, — something even servants
did not hear of,— she could not help believing that the fa-
ther of the Large Family knew it— the gentleman she
called Mr. Montmorency. Mr. Montmorency went to see
him often, and Mrs. Montmorency and all the little Mont-
morencys went, too, though less often. He seemed par-
ticularly fond of the two elder little girls— the Janet and
Nora who had been so alarmed when their small brother
Donald had given Sara his sixpence. He had, in fact, a
very tender place in his heart for all children, and particu-
larly for little girls. Janet and Nora were as fond of him
as he was of them, and looked forward with the greatest
pleasure to the afternoons when they were allowed to cross
the square and make their well-behaved little visits to him.
They were extremely decorous little visits because he was
" He is a poor thing," said Janet, " and he says we cheer
him up. We try to cheer him up very quietly."
Janet w^as the head of the family, and kept the rest of
it in order. It was she who decided when it was discreet
to ask the Indian gentleman to tell stories about India, and
it was she who saw when he was tired and it was the time to
steal quietly away and tell Ram Dass to go to him. They
were very fond of Ram Dass. He could have told any
number of stories if he had been able to speak anything but
Hindustani. The Indian gentleman's real name was Mr.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL 155
Carrisford, and Janet told ^Ir. Carrisford about the
encounter with the Httle-girl-who-was-not-a-beggar. He
was very much interested, and all the more so when he
heard from Ram Dass of the adventure of the monkey on
the roof. Ram Dass made for him a very clear picture
of the attic and its desolateness— of the bare floor and
broken plaster, the rusty, empty grate, and the hard, nar-
"Carmichael," he said to the father of the Large Family,
after he had heard this description; "I wonder how many
of the attics in this square are like that one, and how many
wretched little servant girls sleep on such beds, while I toss
on my down pillows, loaded and harassed by wealth that is,
most of it — not mine."
" My dear fellow," Mr. Carmichael answered cheerily,
"the sooner you cease tormenting yourself the better it
will be for you. If you possessed all the wealth of all the
Indies, you could not set right all the discomforts in the
world, and if you began to refurnish all the attics in this
square, there would still remain all the attics in all the
other squares and streets to put in order. And there you
Mr. Carrisford sat and bit his nails as he looked into the
glowing bed of coals in the grate.
"Do you suppose," he said slowly, after a pause— "do
you think it is possible that the other child— the child I
never cease thinking of, I believe— could be— could pos-
sibly be reduced to any such condition as the poor little
soul next door?"
156 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Mr. Carmichael looked at him uneasily. He knew that
the worst thing the man could do for himself, for his rea-
son and his health, was to begin to think in this particular
way of this particular subject.
" If the child at Madame Pascal's school in Paris was
the one you are in search of," he answered soothingly,
" she would seem to be in the hands of people who can
afford to take care of her. They adopted her because she
had been the favorite companion of their little daughter
who died. They had no other children, and Madame Pas-
cal said that they were extremely well-to-do Russians."
" And the wretched woman actually did not know where
they had taken her!" exclaimed Mr. Carrisford.
Mr. Carmichael shrugged his shoulders.
" She was a shrewd, worldly Frenchwoman, and was
evidently only too glad to get the child so comfortably off
her hands when the father's death left her totally unpro-
vided for. Women of her type do not trouble themselves
about the futures of children who might prove burdens.
The adopted parents apparently disappeared and left no
" But you say 'if the child was the one I am in search
of. You say ' if.' We are not sure. There was a differ-
ence in the name."
" Madame Pascal pronounced it as if it were Carew in-
stead of Crewe, — but that might be merely a matter of
pronunciation. The circumstances were curiously simi-
lar. An English officer in India had placed his mother-
less little girl at the school. He had died suddenly after
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL 157
losing his fortune." JNIr. Carmichael paused a moment, as
if a new thought had occurred to him. " Are you sure the
child was left at a school in Paris? Are you sure it was
"My dear fellow," broke forth Carrisford, with rest-
less bitterness, " I am sure of nothing. I never saw either
the child or her mother. Ralph Crewe and I loved each
other as boys, but we had not met since our school-days,
until we met in India. I was absorbed in the magnificent
promise of the mines. He became absorbed, too. The
whole thing was so huge and glittering that we half lost
our heads. When we met we scarcely spoke of anything
else. I only knew that the child had been sent to school
somewhere. I do not even remember, now, Jiow I knew it."
He was beginning to be excited. He alwaj^s became
excited when his still weakened brain was stirred by memo-
ries of the catastrophes of the past.
Mr. Carmichael watched him anxiously. It was neces-
sary to ask some questions, but they must be put quietly
and with caution.
" But you had reason to think the school was in Paris? "
" Yes," was the answer, " because her mother was a
Frenchwoman, and I had heard that she wished her child
to be educated in Paris. It seemed only likely that she
would be there."
" Yes," Mr. Carmichael said, " it seems more than prob-
The Indian gentleman leaned forward and struck the
table with a long, wasted hand.
158 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" Carmichael," he said, " I jnust find her. If she is ahve,
she is somewhere. If she is friendless and penniless, it
is through my fault. How is a man to get back his nerve
with a thing like that on his mind ? This sudden change of
luck at the mines has made realities of all our most fantas-
tic dreams, and poor Crewe's child may be begging in the
"No, no," said Carmichael. "Try to be calm. Con-
sole yourself with the fact that when she is found you have
a fortune to hand over to her."
" Why was I not man enough to stand my ground when
things looked black?" Carrisford groaned in petulant
misery. " I believe I should have stood my ground if I
had not been responsible for other people's money as well
as my own. Poor Crewe had put into the scheme every
penny that he owned. He trusted me— he loved me. And
he died thinking I had ruined him— I— Tom Carrisford,
who played cricket at Eton with him. What a villain he
must have thought me!"
" Don't reproach yourself so bitterly."
" I don't reproach myself because the speculation threat-
ened to fail— I reproach myself for losing my courage. I
ran away like a swindler and a thief, because I could not
face my best friend and tell him I had ruined him and his
The good-hearted father of the Large Family put his
hand on his shoulder comfortingly.
" You ran away because 3^our brain had given way under
the strain of mental torture," he said. " You were half de-
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL 159
lirioiis already. If you had not been you would have
stayed and fought it out. You were in a hospital, strapped
down in bed, raving with brain-fever, two days after you
left the place. Remember that."
Carrisford dropped his forehead in his hands.
"Good God! Yes," he said. "I was driven mad with
dread and horror. I had not slept for weeks. The night
I staggered out of my house all the air seemed full of
hideous things mocking and mouthing at me."
" That is explanation enough in itself," said Mr. Car-
michael. " How could a man on the verge of brain-fever
Carrisford shook his drooping head.
" And when I returned to consciousness poor Crewe was
dead— and buried. And I seemed to remember nothing.
I did not remember the child for months and months.
Even when I began to recall her existence everything
seemed in a sort of haze."
He stopped a moment and rubbed his forehead. " It
sometimes seems so now when I try to remember. Surely
I must sometime have heard Crewe speak of the school she
was sent to. Don't you think so?"
" He might not have spoken of it definitely. You never
seem even to have heard her real name."
" He used to call her by an odd pet name he had in-
vented. He called her his ' Little Missus.' But the
wretched mines drove everything else out of our heads.
We talked of nothing else. If he spoke of the school, I
forgot— I forgot. And now I shall never remember."
160 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"Come, come," said Carmichael. "We shall find her
j^et. We will continue to search for Madame Pascal's
good-natured Russians. She seemed to have a vague idea
that they lived in Moscow. We will take that as a clue. I
will go to Moscow."
" If I were able to travel, I would go with you," said
Carrisford; "but I can only sit here wrapped in furs and
stare at the fire. And when I look into it I seem to see
Crewe's gay young face gazing back at me. He looks as
if he were asking me a question. Sometimes I dream of
him at night, and he always stands before me and asks the
same question in words. Can you guess what he says,
Mr. Carmichael answered him in a rather low voice.
" Not exactly," he said.
"He always says, 'Tom, old man— Tom— where is the
Little Missus?'" He caught at Carmichael's hand and
clung to it. " I must be able to answer him— I must! " he
said. " Help me to find her. Help me."
On the other side of the wall Sara was sitting in her
garret talking to Melchisedec, who had come out for his
" It has been hard to be a princess to-day, Melchisedec,"
she said. " It has been harder than usual. It gets harder
as the weather grows colder and the streets get more
sloppy. When Lavinia laughed at my muddy skirt as I
passed her in the hall, I thought of something to say all
in a flash— and I only just stopped myself in time. You
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL 161
can't sneer back at people like that — if you are a princess.
But you have to bite your tongue to hold yourself in. I
bit mine. It was a cold afternoon, Melchisedec. And it 's
a cold night."
Quite suddenly she put her black head down in her
arms, as she often did when she was alone.
" Oh, papa," she whispered, " what a long time it seems
since I was your ' Little Missus ' ! "
This was what happened that day on both sides of the
ONE OF THE POPULACE
THE winter was a wretched one. There were days on
which Sara tramped through snow when she went
on her errands; tliere were worse days when the
snow melted and combined itself with mud to form slush ;
there were others when the fog was so thick that the lamps
in the street were lighted all day and London looked as it
had looked the afternoon, several years ago, when the cab
had driven through the thoroughfares with Sara tucked up
on its seat, leaning against her father's shoulder. On such
days the windows of the house of the Large Family al-
ways looked delightfully cosey and alluring, and the study
in which the Indian gentleman sat glowed with warmth
and rich color. But the attic was dismal beyond words.
There were no longer sunsets or sunrises to look at, and
scarcely ever any stars, it seemed to Sara. The clouds
hung low over the skylight and were either gray or mud-
color, or dropping heavy rain. At four o'clock in the af-
ternoon, even when there was no special fog, the daylight
was at an end. If it was necessary to go to her attic for
anything, Sara was obliged to light a candle. The women
in the kitchen were depressed, and that made them more
ONE OF THE POPULACE 163
ill-tempered than ever. Becky was driven like a little
" 'T war n't for you, miss," she said hoarsely to Sara one
night when she had crept into the attic — " 't war n't for you,
an' the Bastille, an' bein' the prisoner in the next cell, I
should die. That there does seem real now, does n't it?
The missus is more like the head jailer every day she lives.
I can jest see them big keys you say she carries. The cook
she 's like one of the under- jailers. Tell me some more,
please, miss— tell me about the subt'ranean passage we 've
dug under the walls."
" I '11 tell you something warmer," shivered Sara. " Get
your coverlet and wrap it round you, and I '11 get mine,
and we will huddle close together on the bed, and I '11 tell
you about the tropical forest where the Indian gentleman's
monkey used to live. When I see him sitting on the table
near the window and looking out into the street with that
mournful expression, I always feel sure he is thinking
about the tropical forest where he used to swing by his
tail from cocoanut-trees. I wonder who caught him, and if
he left a family behind who had depended on him for
"That is warmer, miss," said Becky, gratefully; "but,
some ways, even the Bastille is sort of heatin' when you
gets to tellin' about it."
" That is because it makes you think of something else,"
said Sara, wrapping the coverlet round her until only her
small dark face was to be seen looking out of it. "I 've
noticed this. What you have to do with your mind, when
164 A LITTLE PRINCESS
your body is miserable, is to make it think of something
"Can you do it, miss?" faltered Becky, regarding her
with admiring eyes.
Sara knitted her brows a moment.
" Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't," she said
stoutly. " But when I can I 'm all right. And what I be-
lieve is that we always could— if we practised enough.
I 've been practising a good deal lately, and it 's beginning
to be easier than it used to be. When things are horrible—
just horrible— I think as hard as ever I can of being a prin-
cess. I say to myself, ' I am a princess, and I am a fairy
one, and because I am a fairy nothing can hurt me or make
me uncomfortable.' You don't know how it makes you
forget,"— with a laugh.
She had many opportunities of making her mind think
of something else, and many opportunities of proving to
herself whether or not she was a princess. But one of the
strongest tests she was ever put to came on a certain dread-
ful day which, she often thought afterward, would never
quite fade out of her memory even in the years to come.
For several days it had rained continuously ; the streets
were chilly and sloppy and full of dreary, cold mist ; there
was mud everywhere,— sticky London mud,— and over
everything the pall of drizzle and fog. Of course there
were several long and tiresome errands to be done,— there
always were on days like this, — and Sara was sent out
again and again, until her shabby clothes were damp
through. The absurd old feathers on her forlorn hat were
ONE OF THE POPULACE 165
more draggled and absurd than ever, and her downtrodden
shoes were so wet that they could not hold any more water.
Added to this, she had been deprived of her dinner, be-
cause Miss Minchin had chosen to punish her. She was
so cold and hungry and tired that her face began to have
a pinched look, and now and then some kind-hearted per-
son passing her in the street glanced at her with sudden
sympathy. But she did not know that. She hurried on,
trying to make her mind think of something else. It was
really very necessary. Her way of doing it was to '* pre-
tend " and " suppose " with all the strength that was left in
her. But really this time it was harder than she had ever
found it, and once or twice she thought it almost made her
more cold and hungry instead of less so. But she perse-
vered obstinately, and as the muddy water squelched
through her broken shoes and the wind seemed trying to
drag her thin jacket from her, she talked to herself as she
walked, though she did not speak aloud or even move her
" Suppose I had dry clothes on," she thought. " Sup-
pose I had good shoes and a long, thick coat and merino
stockings and a whole umbrella. And suppose— suppose
—just when I was near a baker's where they sold hot buns,
I should find sixpence— which belonged to nobody. Sup-
pose, if I did, I should go into the shop and buy six of the
hottest buns and eat them all without stopping."
Some very odd things happen in this world sometimes.
It certainly was an odd thing that happened to Sara.
She had to cross the street just when she was saying this
166 A LITTLE PRINCESS
to herself. The mud was dreadful— she almost had to
wade. She picked her way as carefully as she could, but
she could not save herself much ; only, in picking her way,
she had to look down at her feet and the mud, and in look-
ing down — just as she reached the pavement — she saw
something shining in the gutter. It was actually a piece
of silver — a tiny piece trodden upon by many feet, but still
with spirit enough left to shine a little. Not quite a six-
pence, but the next thing to it — a fourpenny piece.
In one second it was in her cold little red-and-blue hand.
"Oh," she gasped, "it is true! It is true!"
And then, if you will believe me, she looked straight at
the shop directly facing her. And it was a baker's shop,
and a cheerful, stout, motherly woman with rosy cheeks was
putting into the window a tray of delicious newly baked
hot buns, fresh from the oven— large, plump, shiny buns,
with currants in them.
It almost made Sara feel faint for a few seconds— the
shock, and the sight of the buns, and the delightful odors
of warm bread floating up through the baker's cellar
She knew she need not hesitate to use the little piece of
money. It had evidently been lying in the mud for some
time, and its owner was completely lost in the stream of
passing people who crowded and jostled each other all day
" But I '11 go and ask the baker woman if she has lost
anything," she said to herself, rather faintly. So she
crossed the pavement and put her wet foot on the step. As
she did so she saw something that made her stop.
ONE OF THE POPULACE 167
It was a little figure more forlorn even than herself— a
little figure which was not much more than a bundle of rags,
from which small, bare, red muddy feet peeped out, only
because the rags with which their owner was trying to cover
them were not long enough. Above the rags appeared a
shock head of tangled hair, and a dirty face with big,
hollow, hungiy eyes.
Sara knew they were hungry eyes the moment she saw
them, and she felt a sudden sympathy.
" This," she said to herself, with a little sigh, " is one of
the populace — and she is hungrier than I am."
The child— this "one of the populace "—stared up at
Sara, and shuffled herself aside a little, so as to give her
room to pass. She was used to being made to give room to
everybody. She knew that if a policeman chanced to see
her he would tell her to " move on."
Sara clutched her little fourpenny piece and hesitated
a few seconds. Then she spoke to her.
"Are you hungry?" she asked.
The child shuffled herself and her rags a little more.
" Ain't I jist?" she said in a hoarse voice. " Jist ain't I?"
"Have n't you had any dinner?" said Sara.
" No dinner,"— more hoarsely still and with more shuf-
fling. " Nor yet no bre'fast— nor yet no supper. No
" Since when?" asked Sara.
"Dunno. Never got nothin' to-day— nowhere. I 've
axed an' axed."
Just to look at her made Sara more hungry and faint.
But those queer little thoughts were at work in her
168 A LITTLE PRINCESS
brain, and she was talking to herself, though she was sick
" If I 'm a princess," she was saying — " if I 'm a princess
— when they were poor and driven from their thrones —
they always shared— with the populace— if they met one
poorer and hungrier than themselves. They always shared.
Buns are a penny each. If it had been sixpence I could
have eaten six. It won't be enough for either of us. But
it will be better than nothing."
" Wait a minute," she said to the beggar child.
She went into the shop. It was warm and smelled deli-
ciously. The woman w^as just going to put some more hot
buns into the window.
" If you please," said Sara, " have you lost fourpence—
a silver fourpence? " And she held the forlorn little piece
of money out to her.
The woman looked at it and then at her— at her intense
little face and draggled, once fine clothes.
"Bless us! no," she answered. "Did you find it?"
" Yes," said Sara. " In the gutter."
" Keep it, then," said the woman. " It may have been
there for a week, and goodness knows who lost it. You
could never find out."
" I know that," said Sara, " but I thought I would ask
" Not many w^ould," said the woman, looking puzzled
and interested and good-natured all at once.
" Do you want to buy something? " she added, as she saw
Sara glance at the buns.
The beggar girl was still huddled up in Uie ruriier.
ONE OF THE POPULACE 169
" Four buns, if you please," said Sara. " Those at a
The woman went to the window and put some in a paper
Sara noticed that she put in six.
" I said four, if you please," she explained. " I have
only four pence."
" I '11 throw in two for makeweight," said the woman,
with her good-natured look. " I dare say you can eat them
sometime. Are n't you hungry?"
A mist rose before Sara's eyes.
" Yes," she answered. " I am very hungry, and I am
much obliged to you for your kindness; and"— she was
going to add — "there is a child outside who is hungrier
than I am." But just at that moment two or three cus-
tomers came in at once, and each one seemed in a hurry, so
she could only thank the woman again and go out.
The beggar girl was still huddled up in the corner of
the step. She looked frightful in her wet and dirty rags.
She was staring straight before her with a stupid look of
suffering, and Sara saw her suddenly draw the back of her
roughened black hand across her eyes to rub away the tears
which seemed to have surprised her by forcing their way
from under her lids. She was muttering to herself.
Sara opened the paper bag and took out one of the hot
buns, which had already warmed her own cold hands a
" See," she said, putting the bun in the ragged lap, " this
is nice and hot. Eat it, and you will not feel so hungry."
170 A LITTLE PRINCESS
The child started and stared up at her, as if such sud-
den, amazing good luck almost frightened her; then she
snatched up the bun and began to cram it into her mouth
with great wolfish bites.
"Oh, my! Oh, my!" Sara heard her say hoarsely, in
wild delight. ''Oh, my!"
Sara took out three more buns and put them down.
The sound in the hoarse, ravenous voice was awful.
" She is hungrier than I am," she said to herself. " She 's
starving." But her hand trembled when she put down the
fourth bun. " I 'm not starving," she said— and she put
down the fifth.
The little ravening London savage was still snatching
and devouring when she turned away. She was too raven-
ous to give any thanks, even if she had ever been taught
politeness — which she had not. She was only a poor little
" Good-by," said Sara.
When she reached the other side of the street she looked
back. The child had a bun in each hand and had stopped
in the middle of a bite to watch her. Sara gave her a little
nod, and the child, after another stare, — a curious lingering
stare, — jerked her shaggy head in response, and until Sara
was out of sight she did not take another bite or even finish
the one she had begun.
At that moment the baker-woman looked out of her shop
"Well, I never!" she exclaimed. "If that young un
has n't given her buns to a beggar child ! It was n't because
ONE OF THE POPULACE 171
she did n't want them, either. Well, well, she looked hun-
gry enough. I 'd give something to know what she did it
She stood behind her window for a few moments and
pondered. Then her curiosity got the better of her. She
went to the door and spoke to the beggar child.
"Who gave you those buns?" she asked her.
The child nodded her head toward Sara's vanishing
"What did she say?" inquired the woman.
" Axed me if I was 'ungry," replied the hoarse voice.
" What did you say ? "
" Said I was jist."
" And then she came in and got the buns, and gave them
to you, did she?"
The child nodded.
The woman thought it over.
"Left just one for herself," she said in a low voice.
" And she could have eaten the whole six— I saw it in her
She looked after the little draggled far-away figure and
felt more disturbed in her usually comfortable mind than
she had felt for many a day.
" I wish she had n't gone so quick," she said. " I 'm
blest if she should n't have had a dozen." Then she turned
to the child.
"Are you hungry yet?" she said.
172 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" I 'm alius hungry," was the answer, " but 't ain't as bad
as it was."
" Come in here," said the woman, and she held open the
The child got up and shuffled in. To be invited into a
warm place full of bread seemed an incredible thing. She
did not know what was going to happen. She did not care,
" Get yourself warm," said the woman, pointing to a
fire in the tiny back room. " And look here; when you are
hard up for a bit of bread, you can come in here and ask
for it. I 'm blest if I won't give it to you for that young
Sara found some comfort in her remaining bun. At all
events, it was very hot, and it was better than nothing. As
she walked along she broke off small pieces and ate them
slowly to make them last longer.
" Suppose it was a magic bun," she said, " and a bite was
as much as a whole dinner. I should be overeating myself
if I went on like this."
It was dark when she reached the square where the Select
Seminary was situated. The lights in the houses were all
lighted. The* blinds were not yet drawn in the windows
of the room where she nearly always caught glimpses
of members of the Large Family. Frequently at this hour
she could see the gentleman she called Mr. ^lontmorency
sitting in a big chair, with a small swarm round him, talk-
ing, laughing, perching on the arms of his seat or on his
ONE OF THE POPULACE 173
knees or leaning against them. This evening the swarm
was about him, but he was not seated. On the contrary,
there was a good deal of excitement going on. It was evi-
dent that a journey was to be taken, and it was Mr. Mont-
morency who was to take it. A brougham stood before the
door, and a big portmanteau had been strapped upon it.
The children were dancing about, chattering and hanging
on to their father. The pretty rosy mother was standing
near him, talking as if she was asking final questions. Sara
paused a moment to see the little ones lifted up and kissed
and the bigger ones bent over and kissed also.
" I wonder if he will stay away long," she thought.
" The portmanteau is rather big. Oh, dear, how they will
miss him! I shall miss him myself — even though he
does n't know I am alive."
When the door opened she moved away, — remembering
the sixpence, — but she saw the traveller come out and stand
against the background of the warmly lighted hall, the
older children still hovering about him.
"Will Moscow be covered with snow?" said the little
girl Janet. "Will there be ice everywhere?"
"Shall you drive in a drosky?" cried another. "Shall
you see the Czar?"
" I will write and tell you all about it," he answered,
laughing. " And I will send you pictures of muzhiks and
things. Run into the house. It is a hideous damp night.
I would rather stay with you than go to INloscow. Good
night! Good night, duckies! God bless you!" And he
ran down the steps and jumped into the brougham.
174 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" If you find the little girl, give her our love," shouted
Guy Clarence, jumping up and down on the door-mat.
Then they went in and shut the door.
" Did you see," said Janet to Nora, as they went back to
the room — "the little-girl-who-is-not-a-beggar was pass-
ing? She looked all cold and wet, and I saw her turn
her head over her shoulder and look at us. Mamma says
her clothes always look as if they had been given her by
some one who was quite rich — some one who only let her
have them because they were too shabby to wear. The peo-
ple at the school always send her out on errands on the hor-
ridest days and nights there are."
Sara crossed the square to Miss Minchin's area steps,
feeling faint and shaky.
" I wonder who the little girl is," she thought—*' the little
girl he is going to look for."
And she went down the area steps, lugging her basket
and finding it very heavy indeed, as the father of the Large
Family drove quickly on his way to the station to take the
train which was to carry him to Moscow, where he was to
make his best efforts to search for the lost Httle daughter
of Captain Crewe.
WHAT MELCHISEDEC HEARD AND SAW
ON this very afternoon, while Sara was out, a
I strange thing happened in the attic. Only IMel-
chisedec saw and heard it; and he was so much
alarmed and mystified that he scuttled back to his hole and
hid there, and really quaked and trembled as he peeped out
furtively and with great caution to watch what was go-
The attic had been very still all the day after Sara had
left it in the early morning. The stillness had only been
broken by the pattering of the rain upon the slates and the
skylight. Melchisedec had, in fact, found it rather dull;
and when the rain ceased to patter and perfect silence
reigned, he decided to come out and reconnoitre, though
experience taught him that Sara would not return for some
time. He had been rambling and sniffing about, and had
just found a totally unexpected and unexplained crumb
left from his last meal, when his attention was attracted by
a sound on the roof. He stopped to listen with a palpitat-
ing heart. The sound suggested that something was mov-
ing on the roof. It was approaching the skylight; it
reached the skylight. The skylight was being mysteriously
opened. A dark face peered into the attic; then another
176 A LITTLE PRINCESS
face appeared behind it, and both looked in with signs of
caution and interest. Two men were outside on the roof,
and were making silent preparations to enter through the
skylight itself. One was Ram Dass, and the other was a
young man who was the Indian gentleman's secretary ; but
of course Melchisedec did not know this. He only knew
that the men were invading the silence and privacy of the
attic; and as the one with the dark face let himself down
through the aperture with such lightness and dexterity
that he did not make the slightest sound, Melchisedec
turned tail and fled precipitately back to his hole. He was
frightened to death. He had ceased to be timid with Sara,
and knew she would never throw anything but crumbs,
and would never make any sound other than the soft,
low, coaxing whistling; but strange men were dangerous
things to remain near. He lay close and flat near the en-
trance of his home, just managing to peep through the
crack with a bright, alarmed eye. How much he under-
stood of the talk he heard I am not in the least able to say ;
but, even if he had understood it all, he would probably
have remained greatly mystified.
The secretary, who was light and young, slipped through
the skylight as noiselessly as Ram Dass had done; and he
caught a last ghmpse of Melchisedec's vanishing tail.
" Was that a rat? " he asked Ram Dass in a whisper.
" Yes; a rat, Sahib," answered Ram Dass, also whisper-
ing. " There are many in the walls."
" Ugh! " exclaimed the young man; " it is a wonder the
child is not terrified of them."
WHAT MELCHISEDEC HEARD 177
Ram Dass made a gesture with his hands. He also
smiled respectfully. He was in this place as the intimate
exponent of Sara, though she had only spoken to him once.
" The child is the little friend of all things, Sahib," he
answered. " She is not as other children. I see her when
she does not see me. I slip across the slates and look at her
many nights to see that she is safe. I watch her from my
window when she does not know I am near. She stands
on the table there and looks out at the sky as if it spoke to
her. The sparrows come at her call. The rat she has fed
and tamed in her loneliness. The poor slave of the house
comes to her for comfort. There is a little child who comes
to her in secret; there is one older who worships her and
would listen to her forever if she might. This I have seen
when I have crept across the roof. By the mistress of the
house— who is an evil woman— she is treated like a pariah;
but she has the bearing of a child who is of the blood of
kings ! "
" You seem to know a great deal about her," the secre-
" All her life each day I know," answered Ram Dass.
" Her going out I know, and her coming in ; her sadness and
her poor joys; her coldness and her hunger. I know when
she sits alone until midnight, learning from her books; I
know when her secret friends steal to her and she is happier
— as children can be, even in the midst of poverty — be-
cause they come and she may laugh and talk with them in
whispers. If she were ill I should know, and I would come
and serve her if it might be done."
178 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" You are sure no one comes near this place but herself,
and that she will not return and surprise us. She would
be frightened if she found us here, and the Sahib Carris-
ford's plan would be spoiled."
Ram Dass crossed noiselessly to the door and stood close
" None mount here but herself. Sahib," he said. " She
has gone out with her basket and may be gone for hours.
If I stand here I can hear any step before it reaches the
last flight of the stairs."
The secretary took a pencil and a tablet from his breast
" Keep your ears open," he said; and he began to walk
slowly and softly round the miserable little room, making
rapid notes on his tablet as he looked at things.
First he went to the narrow bed. He pressed his hand
upon the mattress and uttered an exclamation.
" As hard as a stone," he said. " That will have to be
altered some day when she is out. A special journey can be
made to bring it across. It cannot be done to-night." He
lifted the covering and examined the one thin pillow.
" Coverlet dingy and worn, blanket thin, sheets patched
and ragged," he said. " What a bed for a child to sleep in
— and in a house which calls itself respectable! There
has not been a fire in that grate for many a day," glancing
at the rusty fireplace.
" Never since I have seen it," said Ram Dass. " The
mistress of the house is not one who remembers that an-
other than herself may be cold."
WHAT MELCHISEDEC HEARD 179
The secretary was writing quickly on his tablet. He
looked up from it as he tore off a leaf and slipped it into
his breast pocket.
"It is a strange way of doing the thing," he said. " Who
Ram Dass made a modestly apologetic obeisance.
" It is true that the first thought was mine, Sahib," he
said ; " though it was naught but a fancy. I am fond of this
child ; we are both lonely. It is her way to relate her visions
to her secret friends. Being sad one night, I lay close to
the open skylight and listened. The vision she related told
what this miserable room might be if it had comforts in it.
She seemed to see it as she talked, and she grew cheered
and warmed as she spoke. Then she came to this fancy;
and the next day, the Sahib being ill and wretched, I told
him of the thing to amuse him. It seemed then but a
dream, but it pleased the Sahib. To hear of the child's
doings gave him entertainment. He became interested in
her and asked questions. At last he began to please himself
with the thought of making her visions real things."
" You think that it can be done while she sleeps? Sup-
pose she awakened," suggested the secretary; and it was
evident that whatsoever the plan referred to was, it had
caught and pleased his fancy as well as the Sahib Carris-
" I can move as if my feet were of velvet," Ram Dass
replied; "and children sleep soundly— even the unhappy
ones. I could have entered this room in the night many
times, and without causing her to turn upon her pillow.
180 A LITTLE PRINCESS
If the other bearer passes to me the things through the
window, I can do all and she will not stir. When she
awakens she will think a magician has been here."
He smiled as if his heart warmed under his white robe,
and the secretary smiled back at him.
" It will be like a story from the 'Arabian Nights,' " he
said. " Only an Oriental could have planned it. It does
not belong to London fogs."
They did not remain very long, to the great relief of
Melchisedec, who, as he probably did not comprehend their
conversation, felt their movements and whispers ominous.
The young secretary seemed interested in everything. He
wrote down things about the floor, the fireplace, the
broken footstool, the old table, the walls— which last he
touched with his hand again and again, seeming much
pleased when he found that a number of old nails had been
driven in various places.
" You can hang things on them," he said.
Ram Dass smiled mysteriously.
" Yesterday, when she was out," he said, " I entered,
bringing with me small, sharp nails which can be pressed
into the wall without blows from a hammer. I placed
many in the plaster where I may need them. They are
The Indian gentleman's secretary stood still and looked
round him as he thrust his tablets back into his* pocket.
" I think I have made notes enough; we can go now," he
said. " The Sahib Carrisford has a warm heart. It is a
thousand pities that he has not found the lost child."
WHAT MELCHISEDEC HEARD 181
" If he should find her his strength would be restored
to him," said Ram Dass. " His God may lead her to him
Then they slipped through the skylight as noiselessly as
they had entered it. And, after he was quite sure they
had gone, Melchisedec was greatly relieved, and in the
course of a few minutes felt it safe to emerge from his
hole again and scuffle about in the hope that even such
alarming human beings as these might have chanced to
carry crumbs in their pockets and drop one or two of them.
"W" 'W "THEN Sara had passed the house next door she
%/%/ had seen Ram Dass closing the shutters, and
▼ ▼ caught her ghmpse of this room also.
"It is a long time since I saw a nice place from the in-
side," was the thought which crossed her mind.
There was the usual bright fire glowing in the grate, and
the Indian gentleman was sitting before it. His head was
resting in his hand, and he looked as lonely and unhappy as
" Poor man!" said Sara; " I wonder what you are sup-
And this was what he was "supposing" at that very
" Suppose," he was thinking, "suppose— even if Carmi-
chael traces the people to Moscow — the little girl they took
from Madame Pascal's school in Paris is not the one we
are in search of. Suppose she proves to be quite a different
child. What steps shall I take next? "
When Sara went into the house she met Miss Minchin,
who had come down-stairs to scold the cook.
"Where have you wasted your time?" she demanded.
" You have been out for hours."
THE MAGIC 183
" It was so wet and muddy," Sara answered, " it was
hard to walk, because my shoes were so bad and sHpped
" Make no excuses," said Miss Minchin, " and tell no
Sara went in to the cook. The cook had received a severe
lecture and was in a fearful temper as a result. She was
only too rejoiced to have some one to vent her rage on, and
Sara was a convenience, as usual.
" Why did n't you stay all night? " she snapped.
Sara laid her purchases on the table.
" Here are the things," she said.
The cook looked them over, grumbling. She was in a
very savage humor indeed.
"May I have something to eat?" Sara asked rather
" Tea 's over and done with," was the answer. " Did you
expect me to keep it hot for you? "
Sara stood silent for a second.
" I had no dinner," she said next, and her voice was
quite low. She made it low because she was afraid it would
" There 's some bread in the pantry," said the cook.
" That 's all you '11 get at this time of day."
Sara went and found the bread. It was old and hard and
dry. The cook Avas in too vicious a humor to give her any-
thing to eat with it. It was always safe and easy to vent
her spite on Sara. Realh^ it was hard for the child to
climb the three long flights of stairs leading to her attic.
184 A LITTLE PRINCESS
She often found them long and steep when she was tired;
but to-night it seemed as if she would never reach the top.
Several times she was obliged to stop to rest. When she
reached the top landing she was glad to see the glimmer
of a light coming from under her door. That meant that
Ermengarde had managed to creep up to pay her a visit.
There was some comfort in that. It was better than to go
into the room alone and find it empty and desolate. The
mere presence of plump, comfortable Ermengarde, wrap-
ped in her red shawl, would warm it a little.
Yes; there Ermengarde was when she opened the door.
She was sitting in the middle of the bed, with her feet
tucked safely under her. She had never become intimate
with Melchisedec and his family, though they rather fas-
cinated her. When she found herself alone in the attic she
always preferred to sit on the bed until Sara arrived. She
had, in fact, on this occasion had time to become rather
nervous, because INIelchisedec had appeared and sniffed
about a good deal, and once had made her utter a repressed
squeal by sitting up on his hind legs and, while he looked
at her, sniffing pointedly in her direction.
"Oh, Sara," she cried out, " I am glad you have come.
Melchy would sniff about so. I tried to coax him to go
back, but he would n't for such a long time. I like him,
you know; but it does frighten me when he sniffs right at
me. Do you think he ever would jump? "
" No," answered Sara.
Ermengarde crawled forward on the bed to look at her.
"You do look tired, Sara," she said; "you are quite
THE MAGIC 185
" I am tired," said Sara, dropping on to the lop-sided
footstool. " Oh, there 's Melchisedec, poor thing. He 's
come to ask for his supper."
Melchisedec had come out of his hole as if he had been
listening for her footstep. Sara was quite sure he knew it.
He came forward with an affectionate, expectant expres-
sion as Sara put her hand in her pocket and turned it in-
side out, shaking her head.
" I 'm very sorry," she said. " I have n't one crumb left.
Go home, Melchisedec, and tell your wife there was no-
thing in my pocket. I 'm afraid I forgot because the cook
and Miss Minchin were so cross."
INIelchisedec seemed to understand. He shviffled resign-
edly, if not contentedly, back to his home.
" I did not expect to see you to-night, Ermie," Sara
Ermengarde hugged herself in the red shawl.
" Miss Amelia has gone out to spend the night with her
old aunt," she explained. " No one else ever comes and
looks into the bedrooms after we are in bed. I could stay
here until morning if I wanted to."
She pointed toward the table under the skylight. Sara
had not looked toward it as she came in. A number of
books were piled upon it. Ermengarde's gesture was a
"Papa has sent me some more books, Sara," she said.
" There they are."
Sara looked round and got up at once. She ran to the
table, and picking up the top volume, turned over its leaves
quickly. For the moment she forgot her discomforts.
186 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" Ah," she cried out, " how beautiful ! Carlyle's ' French
Revolution.' I have so wanted to read that!"
" I have n't," said Ermengarde. " And papa will be so
cross if I don't. He '11 expect me to know all about it
when I go home for the holidays. What shall I do? "
Sara stopped turning over the leaves and looked at her
with an excited flush on her cheeks.
" Look here," she cried, " if you '11 lend me these books,
I 'II read them— and tell you everything that 's in them
afterward— and I '11 tell it so that you will remember it,
"Oh, goodness!" exclaimed Ermengarde. "Do you
think you can?"
" I know I can," Sara answered. " The little ones always
remember what I tell them."
" Sara," said Ermengarde, hope gleaming in her round
face, " if you '11 do that, and make me remember, I '11—
I '11 give you anything."
" I don't want you to give me anything," said Sara. " I
want your books— I want them! " And her eyes grew big,
and her chest heaved.
"Take them, then," said Ermengarde. "I wish I
wanted them— but I don't. I 'm not clever, and my fa-
ther is, and he thinks I ought to be."
Sara was opening one book after the other. " What are
you going to tell your father?" she asked, a slight doubt
dawning in her mind.
" Oh, he need n't know," answered Ermengarde. " He '11
think I 've read them."
THE MAGIC 187
Sara put down her book and shook her head slowly.
" That 's almost like telhng lies," she said. " And lies-
well, you see, they are not only wicked — they 're vulgar.
Sometimes"— reflectively— " I 've thought perhaps I
might do something wicked,— I might suddenly fly into
a rage and kill Miss Minchin, you know, when she was
ill-treating me,— but I could lit be vulgar. Why can't you
tell your father / read them? "
" He wants me to read them," said Ermengarde, a little
discouraged by this unexpected turn of afl'airs.
" He wants you to know what is in them," said Sara.
" And if I can tell it to you in an easy way and make you
remember it, I should think he would like that."
" He '11 like it if I learn anything in any way," said rue-
ful Ermengarde. " You would if you -were my father."
"It 's not your fault that—" began Sara. She pulled
herself up and stopped rather suddenly. She had been
going to say, "It 's not your fault that you are stupid."
" That what? " Ermengarde asked.
" That you can't learn things quickly," amended Sara.
"If you can't, you can't. If I can— why, I can; that 's
She always felt very tender of Ermengarde, and tried
not to let her feel too strongly the diiFerence between be-
ing able to learn anything at once, and not being able to
learn anything at all. As she looked at her plump face,
one of her wise, old-fashioned thoughts came to her.
" Perhaps," she said, "to be able to learn things quickly
is n't everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other
188 A LITTLE PRINCESS
people. If Miss Minchin knew everything on earth and
was like what she is now, she 'd still be a detestable thing,
and everybody would hate her. Lots of clever people have
done harm and have been wicked. Look at Robespierre—"
She stopped and examined Ermengarde's countenance,
which was beginning to look bewildered. " Don't you re-
member? " she demanded. " I told you about him not long
ago. I believe you 've forgotten."
"Well, I don't remember all of it," admitted Ermen-
" Well, you wait a minute," said Sara, " and I '11 take off
my wet things and wrap myself in the coverlet and tell you
She took off her hat and coat and hung them on a nail
against the wall, and she changed her wet shoes for an old
pair of slippers. Then she jumped on the bed, and draw-
ing the coverlet about her shoulders, sat with her arms
round her knees.
" Now, hsten," she said.
She plunged into the gory records of the French Revo-
lution, and told such stories of it that Ermengarde's eyes
grew round with alarm and she held her breath. But
though she was rather terrified, there was a delightful thrill
in listening, and she was not likely to forget Robespierre
again, or to have any doubts about the Princesse de Lam-
"You know they put her head on a pike and danced
round it," Sara explained. " And she had beautiful float-
ing blonde hair ; and when I think of her, I never see her
THE MAGIC 189
head on her body, but always on a pike, with those furious
people dancing and howling."
It was agreed that Mr. St. John was to be told the plan
they had made, and for the present the books were to be
left in the attic.
" Now let 's tell each other things," said Sara. " How
are you getting on with your French lessons? "
" Ever so much better since the last time I came up here
and you explained the conjugations. Miss Minchin could
not understand why I did my exercises so well that first
Sara laughed a little and hugged her knees.
*' She does n't understand why Lottie is doing her sums
so well," she said; " but it is because she creeps up here, too,
and I help her." She glanced round the room. " The attic
would be rather nice— if it was n't so dreadful," she said,
laughing again. " It 's a good place to pretend in."
The truth was that Ermengarde did not know anything
of the sometimes almost unbearable side of life in the attic,
and she had not a sufficiently vivid imagination to depict it
for herself. On the rare occasions that she could reach
Sara's room she only saw that side of it which was made
exciting by things which were " pretended " and stories
which were told. Her visits partook of the character of
adventures; and though sometimes Sara looked rather pale,
and it was not to be denied that she had grown very thin,
her proud little spirit would not admit of complaints. She
had never confessed that at times she was almost ravenous
with hunger, as she was to-night. She was growing rap-
190 A LITTLE PRINCESS
idly, and her constant walking and running about would
have given her a keen appetite even if she had had abun-
dant and regular meals of a much more nourishing nature
than the unappetizing, inferior food snatched at such odd
times as suited the kitchen convenience. She was growing
used to a certain gnawing feeling in her young stomach.
" I suppose soldiers feel like this when they are on a long
and weary march," she often said to herself. She liked the
sound of the phrase, " long and weary march." It made her
feel rather like a soldier. She had also a quaint sense of
being a hostess in the attic.
" If I lived in a castle," she argued, " and Ermengarde
was the lady of another castle, and came to see me, with
knights and squires and vassals riding with her, and pen-
nons flying ; when I heard the clarions sounding outside the
drawbridge I should go down to receive her, and I should
spread feasts in the banquet-hall and call in minstrels
to sing and play and relate romances. When she comes
into the attic I can't spread feasts, but I can tell stories,
and not let her know disagreeable things. I dare say
poor chatelaines had to do that in times of famine, when
their lands had been pillaged." She was a proud,
brave little chatelaine, and dispensed generously the one
hospitality she could offer — the dreams she dreamed — the
visions she saw — the imaginings which were her joy and
So, as thej^ sat together, Ermengarde did not know that
she was faint as well as ravenous, and that while she talked
she now and then wondered if her hunger would let her
THE MAGIC 191
sleep when she was left alone. She felt as if she had never
been quite so hungry before.
" I wish I was as thin as you, Sara," Ermengarde said
suddenly. " I believe j^ou are thinner than you used to be.
Your eyes look so big, and look at the sharp little bones
sticking out of your elbow ! "
Sara pulled down her sleeve, which had pushed itself up.
" I always was a thin child," she said bravely, "and I al-
ways had big green eyes."
" I love your queer eyes," said Ermengarde, looking
into them with affectionate admiration. " They always
look as if they saw such a long way. I love them— and
I love them to be green— though they look black gener-
" They are cat's eyes," laughed Sara; " but I can't see in
the dark with them— because I have tried, and I could n't
— I wish I could."
It was just at this minute that something happened at
the skylight which neither of them saw. If either of them
had chanced to turn and look, she would have been startled
by the sight of a dark face which peered cautiously into
the room and disappeared as quickly and almost as silently
as it had appeare'd. Not quite as silently, however. Sara,
who had keen ears, suddenly turned a little and looked up at
" That did n't sound like Melchisedec," she said. *' It
was n't scratchy enough."
"What?" said Ermengarde, a little startled.
"Did n't you think you heard something?" asked Sara.
192 A LITTLE PRINCESS
*' N-no," Ermengarde faltered. " Did you? "
"Perhaps I did n't," said Sara; "but I thought I did.
It sounded as if something was on the slates— something
that dragged softly."
" What could it be? " said Ermengarde. " Could it be—
" No," Sara began cheerfully. " There is nothing to
She broke off in the middle of her words. They both
heard the sound that checked her. It was not on the
slates, but on the stairs below, and it was Miss Minchin's
angry voice. Sara sprang off the bed, and put out the
" She is scolding Becky," she whispered, as she stood in
the darkness. " She is making her cry."
" Will she come in here? " Ermengarde whispered back,
" No. She will think I am in bed. Don't stir."
It was very seldom that Miss Minchin mounted the last
flight of stairs. Sara could only remember that she had
done it once before. But now she was angry enough to be
coming at least part of the way up, and it sounded as if
she was driving Becky before her.
"You impudent, dishonest child!" they heard her say.
" Cook tells me she has missed things repeatedly."
" 'T war n't me, mum," said Becky, sobbing. " I was
'ungry enough, but 't war n't me — never! "
" You deserve to be sent to prison," said Miss Minchin's
voice. " Picking and stealing ! Half a meat-pie, indeed ! "
THE MAGIC 193
" 'T war n't me," wept Becky. " I could 'ave eat a whole
iin — but I never laid a finger on it."
Miss ^Minchin was out of breath between temper and
mounting the stairs. The meat-pie had been intended for
her special late supper. It became apparent that she boxed
" Don't tell falsehoods," she said. " Go to your room
Both Sara and Ermengarde heard the slap, and then
heard Becky run in her slip-shod shoes up the stairs and
into her attic. They heard her door shut, and knew that
she threw herself upon her bed.
" I could 'ave e't two of 'em," they heard her cry into
her pillow. " An' I never took a bite. 'T was cook give
it to her policeman."
Sara stood in the middle of the room in the darkness.
She was clenching her little teeth and opening and shutting
fiercely her outstretched hands. She could scarcely stand
still, but she dared not move until Miss Minchin had gone
down the stairs and all was still.
" The wicked, cruel thing! " she burst forth. " The cook
takes things herself and then says Becky steals them. She
does n't! She does n't! She 's so hungry sometimes that
she eats crusts out of the ash-barrel!" She pressed her
hands hard against her face and burst into passionate little
sobs, and Ermengarde, hearing this unusual thing, was
overawed by it. Sara was crying! The unconquerable
Sara ! It seemed to denote something new— some mood she
had never known. Suppose— ! Suppose— ! A new dread
194 A LITTLE PRINCESS
possibility presented itself to her kind, slow, little mind all
at once. She crept off the bed in the dark and found her
way to the table where the candle stood. She struck a
match and lit the candle. When she had lighted it, she
bent forward and looked at Sara, with her new thought
growing to definite fear in her eyes.
" Sara," she said in a timid, almost awe-stricken voice,
"are — are — you never told me — I don't want to be rude,
but — are you ever hungry? "
It was too much just at that moment. The barrier broke
down. Sara lifted her face from her hands.
" Yes," she said in a new passionate way. " Yes, I am.
I 'm so hungry now that I could almost eat you. And it
makes it worse to hear poor Becky. She 's hungrier than I
"Oh! Oh!" she cried wofully; "and I never knew!"
" I did n't want you to know," Sara said. " It would
have made me feel like a street beggar. I know I look like
a street beggar."
"No, you don't— you don't!" Ermengarde broke in.
"Your clothes are a little queer,— but you could n't look
like a street beggar. You have n't a street-beggar face."
" A little boy once gave me a sixpence for charity," said
Sara, with a short little laugh in spite of herself. " Here
it is." And she pulled out the thin ribbon from her neck.
" He would n't have given me his Christmas sixpence if I
had n't looked as if I needed it."
Somehow the sight of the dear little sixpence was good
THE MAGIC 195
for both of them. It made them laugh a little, though they
both had tears in their eyes.
"Who was he?" asked Ermengarde, looking at it quite
as if it had not been a mere ordinary silver sixpence.
" He was a darling little thing going to a party," said
Sara. " He was one of the Large Family, the little one
with the round legs— the one I call Guy Clarence. I sup-
pose his nursery was crammed with Christmas presents and
hampers full of cakes and things, and he could see I had
Ermengarde gave a little jump backward. The last
sentences had recalled something to her troubled mind and
given her a sudden inspiration.
"Oh, Sara!" she cried. "What a silly thing I am not
to have thought of it! "
" Something splendid! " said Ermengarde, in an excited
hurry. " This very afternoon my nicest aunt sent me a
box. It is full of good things. I never touched it, I had
so much pudding at dinner, and I was so bothered about
papa's books." Her words began to tumble over each
other. "It 's got cake in it, and little meat-pies, and jam-
tarts and buns, and oranges and red-currant wine, and
figs and chocolate. I '11 creep back to my room and get it
this minute, and we '11 eat it now."
Sara almost reeled. When one is faint with hunger the
mention of food has sometimes a curious effect. She
clutched Ermengarde's arm.
"Do you think — you could?'' she ejaculated.
196 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" I know I could," answered Ermengarde, and she ran
to the door— opened it softly— put her head out into the
darkness, and listened. Then she went back to Sara.
" The lights are out. Everybody 's in bed. I can creep —
and creep — and no one will hear."
It was so delightful that they caught each other's hands
and a sudden light sprang into Sara's eyes.
"Ermie!" she said. "Let us pretend! Let us pre-
tend it 's a party ! And oh, won't you invite the prisoner in
the next cell?"
" Yes ! Yes ! Let us knock on the wall now. The jailer
Sara went to the wall. Through it she could hear poor
Becky crying more softly. She knocked four times.
" That means, ' Come to me through the secret passage
under the wall,' she explained. ' I have something to com-
Five quick knocks answered her.
*' She is coming," she said.
Almost immediately the door of the attic opened and
Becky appeared. Her eyes were red and her cap was slid-
ing off, and when she caught sight of Ermengarde she
began to rub her face nervously with her apron.
"Don't mind me a bit, Becky!" cried Ermengarde.
" Miss Ermengarde has asked you to come in," said
Sara, " because she is going to bring a box of good things
up here to us."
Becky's cap almost fell off entirely, she broke in with
THE MAGIC 197
"To eat, miss?" she said. "Things that 's good to
" Yes," answered Sara, " and we are going to pretend a
" And you shall have as much as you tvant to eat," put
in Ermengarde. " I '11 go this minute!"
She was in such haste that as she tiptoed out of the attic
she dropped her red shawl and did not know it had fallen.
No one saw it for a minute or so. Becky was too much
overpowered by the good luck which had befallen her.
" Oh, miss! oh, miss! " she gasped; " I know it was you
that asked her to let me come. It — it makes me cry to
think of it." And she went to Sara's side and stood and
looked at her worshippingly.
But in Sara's hungry eyes the old light had begun to
glow and transform her world for her. Here in the attic
— with the cold night outside — with the afternoon in the
sloppy streets barely passed— with the memory of the
awful unfed look in the beggar child's eyes not yet faded—
this simple, cheerful thing had happened like a thing of
She caught her breath.
" Somehow, something always happens," she cried, " just
before things get to the very worst. It is as if the Magic
did it. If I could only just remember that always. The
worst thing never quite comes."
She gave Becky a little cheerful shake.
"No, no! You must n't cry!" she said. "We must
make haste and set the table."
198 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"Set the table, miss?" said Becky, gazing round the
room. " What '11 we set it with? "
Sara looked round the attic, too.
" There does n't seem to be much," she answered, half
That moment she saw something and pounced upon it.
It was Ermengarde's red shawl which lay upon the floor.
" Here 's the shawl," she cried. " I know she won't mind
it. It will make such a nice red table-cloth."
They pulled the old table forward, and threw the shawl
over it. Red is a wonderfully kind and comfortable color.
It began to make the room look furnished directly.
"How nice a red rug would look on the floor!" ex-
claimed Sara. " We must pretend there is one! "
Her eye swept the bare boards with a swift glance of
admiration. The rug was laid down already.
" How soft and thick it is! " she said, with the little laugh
which Becky knew the meaning of; and she raised and
set her foot down again delicately, as if she felt something
" Yes, miss," answered Becky, watching her with seri-
ous rapture. She was always quite serious.
"What next, now?" said Sara, and she stood still and put
her hands over her eyes. " Something will come if I think
and wait a little "—in a soft, expectant voice. " The Magic
will tell me."
One of her favorite fancies was that on " the outside,"
as she called it, thoughts were waiting for people to call
them. Becky had seen her stand and wait many a time
THE MAGIC 199
before, and knew that in a few seconds she would uncover
an enlightened, laughing face.
In a moment she did.
"There!" she cried. "It has come! I know now! I
must look among the things in the old trunk I had when
I was a princess."
She flew to its corner and kneeled down. It had not been
put in the attic for her benefit, but because there was no
room for it elsewhere. Nothing had been left in it but rub-
bish. But she knew she should find something. The Magic
always arranged that kind of thing in one way or another.
In a corner lay a package so insignificant-looking that
it had been overlooked, and when she herself had found it
she had kept it as a relic. It contained a dozen small white
handkerchiefs. She seized them joyfully and ran to the
table. She began to arrange them upon the red table-
cover, patting and coaxing them into shape with the narrow
lace edge curling outward, her JVIagic working its spells for
her as she did it.
"These are the plates," she said. "They are golden
plates. These are the richly embroidered napkins. Nuns
worked them in convents in Spain."
"Did they, miss?" breathed Beckj^, her very soul up-
lifted by the information.
" You must pretend it," said Sara. " If you pretend it
enough, you will see them."
"Yes, miss," said Becky; and as Sara returned to the
trunk she devoted herself to the effort of accomphshing an
end so much to be desired.
200 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Sara turned suddenly to find her standing by tlie table,
looking very queer indeed. She had shut her eyes, and was
twisting her face in strange, convulsive contortions, her
hands hanging stiffly clenched at her sides. She looked as
if she was trying to lift some enormous weight.
" What is the matter, Becky? " Sara cried. " What are
Becky opened her eyes with a start.
" I was a-' pretendin',' miss," she answered a little
sheepishly; "I was tryin' to see it like you do. I almost
did," with a hopeful grin. " But it takes a lot o'
" Perhaps it does if you are not used to it," said Sara,
with friendly sympathy; "but you don't know how easy
it is when you 've done it often. I would n't try so hard
just at first. It will come to you after a while. I '11 just
tell you what things are. Look at these."
She held an old summer hat in her hand which she had
fished out of the bottom of the trunk. There was a wreath
of flowers on it. She pulled the wreath off.
" These are garlands for the feast," she said grandly.
" They fill all the air with perfume. There 's a mug on the
wash-stand, Becky. Oh— and bring the soap-dish for a
Becky handed them to her reverently.
"What are they now, miss?" she inquired. "You 'd
think they was made of crockery,— but I know they
" This is a carven flagon," said Sara, arranging tendrils
THE MAGIC 201
of the wreath about the mug. " And this "—bending ten-
derly over the soap-dish and heaping it with roses— "is
purest alabaster encrusted with gems."
She touched the things gently, a happy smile hovering
about her lips which made her look as if she were a creature
in a dream.
"My, ain't it lovely!" whisi^ered Becky.
" If we just had something for bonbon-dishes," Sara
murmured. " There!"— darting to the trunk again. "I
remember I saw something this minute."
It was only a bundle of wool wrapped in red and white
tissue-paper, but the tissue-paper was soon twisted into the
form of little dishes, and was combined with the remaining
flowers to ornament the candlestick which was to light the
feast. Only the INIagic could have made it more than an
old table covered with a red shawl and set with rubbish from
a long-unopened trunk. But Sara drew back and gazed
at it, seeing wonders ; and Becky, after staring in delight,
spoke with bated breath.
" This 'ere," she suggested, with a glance round the attic
—"is it the Bastille now— or has it turned into somethin'
"Oh, yes, yes!" said Sara; "quite different. It is a
"My eye, miss!" ejaculated Becky. "A blanket-'all ! "
and she turned to view the splendors about her with awed
"A banquet-hall," said Sara. "A vast chamber where
feasts are given. It has a vaulted roof, and a minstrels'
202 A LITTLE PRINCESS
gallery, and a huge chimney filled with blazing oaken
logs, and it is brilliant with waxen tapers twinkling on
" My eye, Miss Sara! " gasped Becky again.
Then the door opened, and Ermengarde came in, rather
staggering under the weight of her hamper. She started
back with an exclamation of joy. To enter from the chill
darkness outside, and find one's self confronted by a to-
tally unanticipated festal board, draped with red, adorned
with white napery, and wreathed with flowers, was to feel
that the preparations were brilliant indeed.
" Oh, Sara! " she cried out. " You are the cleverest girl
I ever saw!"
"Is n't it nice?" said Sara. "They are things out of
my old trunk. I asked my Magic, and it told me to go and
" But oh, miss," cried Becky, " wait till she 's told you
what they are! They ain't just— oh, miss, please tell her,"
appealing to Sara.
So Sara told her, and because her Magic helped her she
made her almost see it all: the golden platters— the vaulted
spaces— the blazing logs— the twinkling waxen tapers. As
the things were taken out of the hamper — the frosted cakes
— the fruits — the bonbons and the wine — the feast became
a splendid thing.
" It 's like a real party! " cried Ermengarde.
"It 's like a queen's table," sighed Becky.
Then Ermengarde had a sudden brilliant thought.
" I '11 tell you what, Sara," she said. " Pretend you are
a princess now and this is a royal feast."
THE MAGIC 203
"But it 's your feast," said Sara; "you must be the
princess, and we will be your maids of honor."
" Oh, I can't," said Ermengarde. " I 'm too fat, and I
don't know how. You be her."
" Well, if you want me to," said Sara.
But suddenly she thought of something else and ran to
the rusty grate.
"There is a lot of paper and i*ubbish stuffed in here!"
she exclaimed. " If we light it, there will be a bright blaze
for a few minutes, and we shall feel as if it was a real fire."
She struck a match and lighted it up with a great specious
glow which illuminated the room.
" By the time it stops blazing," Sara said, " we shall for-
get about its not being real."
She stood in the dancing glow and smiled.
" Does n't it look real? " she said. " Now we will begin
She led the way to the table. She waved her hand gra-
ciously to Ermengarde and Becky. She was in the midst
of her dream.
" Advance, fair damsels," she said in her happy dream-
voice, " and be seated at the banquet-table. My noble fa-
ther, the king, who is absent on a long journey, has com-
manded me to feast you." She turned her head slightly
toward the corner of the room. " What, ho! there, min-
strels! Strike up with your viols and bassoons. Prin-
cesses," she explained rapidly to Ermengarde and Becky,
" always had minstrels to play at their feasts. Pretend
there is a minstrel gallery up there in the corner. Now we
204 A LITTLE PRINCESS
They had barely had time to take then* pieces of cake
into their hands— not one of them had time to do more,
when — they all three sprang to their feet and turned pale
faces toward the door— listening— listening.
Some one was coming up the stairs. There was no
mistake about it. Each of them recognized the angry,
mounting tread and knew that the end of all things had
"It 's— the missus!" choked Becky, and dropped her
piece of cake upon the floor.
" Yes," said Sara, her eyes growing shocked and large
in her small white face. " Miss Minchin has found us
Miss Minchin struck the door open with a blow of her
hand. She was pale herself, but it was with rage. She
looked from the frightened faces to the banquet-table, and
from the banquet-table to the last flicker of the burnt paper
in the grate.
"I have been suspecting something of this sort," she
exclaimed; *'but I did not dream of such audacity. La-
vinia was telling the truth."
So they knew that it was Lavinia who had somehow
guessed their secret and had betrayed them. Miss Min-
chin strode over to Becky and boxed her ears for a second
"You impudent creature!" she said. "You leave the
house in the morning!"
Sara stood quite still, her eyes growing larger, her face
paler. Ermengarde burst into tears.
Miss iMincliin struck the door open witli a blow of her hand.
THE MAGIC 205
" Oh, don't send her away," she sobbed. " My aunt sent
me the hamper. We 're— only— having a party."
" So I see," said Miss Minchin, witheringly. " With the
Princess Sara at the head of the table." She turned
fiercely on Sara. " It is your doing, I know," she cried.
" Ermengarde would never have thought of such a thing.
You decorated the table, I suppose— with this rubbish."
She stamped her foot at Becky. " Go to your attic! " she
commanded, and Becky stole away, her face hidden in her
apron, her shoulders shaking.
Then it was Sara's turn again.
" I will attend to you to-morrow. You shall have neither
breakfast, dinner, nor supper!"
" I have not had either dinner or supper to-day. Miss
Minchin," said Sara, rather faintly.
" Then all the better. You will have something to re-
member. Don't stand there. Put those things into the
She began to sweep them off the table into the hamper
herself, and caught sight of Ermengarde's new books.
"And you" — to Ermengarde — "have brought your
beautiful new books into this dirty attic. Take them up
and go back to bed. You will stay there all day to-morrow,
and I shall write to your papa. What would he say if he
knew where you are to-night?"
Something she saw in Sara's grave, fixed gaze at this
moment made her turn on her fiercely.
"What are you thinking of?" she demanded. "Why
do you look at me like that? "
206 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" I was wondering," answered Sara, as she had answered
that notable day in the school-room.
" What were you wondering? "
It was very like the scene in the school-room. There was
no pertness in Sara's manner. It was only sad and quiet.
" I was wondering," she said in a low voice, " what my
pajia would say if he knew where I am to-night."
Miss Minchin was infuriated just as she had been before,
and her anger expressed itself, as before, in an intemperate
fashion. She flew at her and shook her.
" You insolent, unmanageable child! " she cried. " How
dare you ! How dare you ! "
She picked up the books, swept the rest of the feast back
into the hamper in a jumbled heap, thrust it into Ermen-
garde's arms, and j)ushed her before her toward the door.
" I will leave you to wonder," she said. " Go to bed this
instant." And she shut the door behind herself and poor
stumbling Ermengarde, and left Sara standing quite alone.
The dream was quite at an end. The last spark had died
out of the paper in the grate and left only black tinder; the
table was left bare, the golden plates and richly embroid-
ered napkins, and the garlands were transformed again
into old handkerchiefs, scraps of red and white paper, and
discarded artificial flowers all scattered on the floor; the
minstrels in the minstrel gallery had stolen away, and the
viols and bassoons were still. Emily was sitting with her
back against the wall, staring very hard. Sara saw her,
and went and picked her up with trembling hands.
" There is n't any banquet left, Emily," she said. " And
THE MAGIC 207
there is n't any princess. There is nothing left but the
prisoners in the Bastille." And she sat down and hid her
What would have happened if she had not hidden it just
then, and if she had chanced to look up at the skylight at
the wrong moment, I do not know— perhaps the end of this
chapter might have been quite different— because if she
had glanced at the skylight she would certainly have been
startled by what she would have seen. She would have seen
exactly the same face pressed against the glass and peering
in at her as it had peered in earlier in the evening when she
had been talking to Ermengarde.
But she did not look up. She sat with her little black
head in her arms for some time. She always sat like that
when she was trying to bear something in silence. Then
she got up and went slowly to the bed.
" I can't pretend anything else — while I am awake," she
said. " There would n't be any use in trying. If I go to
sleep, perhaps a dream will come and pretend for me."
She suddenly felt so tired — perhaps through want of
food— that she sat down on the edge of the bed quite
" Suppose there was a bright fire in the grate, with lots
of little dancing flames," she murmured. " Suppose there
was a comfortable chair before it— and suppose there was
a small table near, with a little hot — hot supper on it. And
suppose " — as she drew the thin coverings over her — " sup-
pose this was a beautiful soft bed, with fleecy blankets and
large downy pillows. Suppose— suppose— " And her
208 A LITTLE PRINCESS
very weariness was good to her, for her eyes closed and she
fell fast asleep.
She did not know how long she slept. But she had been
tired enough to sleep deeply and profoundly — too deeply
and soundly to be disturbed by anything, even by the
squeaks and scamperings of Melchisedec's entire family, if
all his sons and daughters had chosen to come out of their
hole to fight and tumble and play.
When she awakened it was rather suddenly, and she did
not know that any particular thing had called her out
of her sleep. The truth was, however, that it was a
sound which had called her back — a real sound — the
click of the skylight as it fell in closing after a lithe white
figure which slipped through it and crouched down close
by upon the slates of the roof — just near enough to
see what happened in the attic, but not near enough to be
At first she did not open her eyes. She felt too sleepy
and — curiously enough — too warm and comfortable. She
was so warm and comfortable, indeed, that she did not be-
lieve she was really awake. She never was as warm and
cosey as this except in some lovely vision.
"What a nice dream!" she murmured. "I feel quite
warm. I— don't— want— to— wake— up."
Of course it was a dream. She felt as if warm, delight-
ful bedclothes were heaped upon her. She could actually
feel blankets, and when she put out her hand it touched
something exactly like a satin-covered eider-down quilt.
THE MAGIC 209
She must not awaken from this delight— she must be quite
still and make it last.
But she could not— even though she kept her eyes closed
tightly, she could not. Something was forcing her to
awaken— something in the room. It was a sense of light,
and a sound— the sound of a crackling, roaring little fire.
" Oh, I am awakening," she said mournfully. " I can't
help it— I can't."
Her eyes opened in spite of herself. And then she ac-
tually smiled — for what she saw she had never seen in the
attic before, and knew she never should see.
" Oh, I have n't awakened," she whispered, daring to rise
on her elbow and look all about her, " I am dreaming yet."
She knew it must be a dream, for if she were awake such
things could not— could not be.
Do you wonder that she felt sure she had not come back
to earth? This is what she saw. In the grate there was
a glowing, blazing fire ; on the hob was a little brass kettle
hissing and boiling; spread upon the floor was a thick,
warm crimson rug; before the fire a folding-chair, un-
folded, and with cushions on it; by the chair a small fold-
ing-table, unfolded, covered with a white cloth, and upon it
spread small covered dishes, a cup, a saucer, a tea-pot; on
the bed were new warm coverings and a satin-covered down
quilt; at the foot a curious wadded silk robe, a pair of
quilted slippers, and some books. The room of her dream
seemed changed into fairyland— and it was flooded with
warm light, for a bright lamp stood on the table covered
with a rosy shade.
210 A LITTLE PRINCESS
She sat up, resting on her elbow, and her breathing came
short and fast.
" It does not — melt away," she panted. " Oh, I never
had such a dream before." She scarcely dared to stir; but
at last she pushed the bedclothes aside, and put her feet on
the floor with a rapturous smile.
"I am dreaming— I am getting out of bed," she heard
her own voice sajs and then, as she stood up in the midst
of it all, turning slowly from side to side,—" I am dream-
ing it stays— real! I 'm dreaming it feels real. It 's be-
witched — or I 'm bewitched. I only think I see it all."
Her words began to hurry themselves. " If I can only
keep on thinking it," she cried, "I don't care! I don't
She stood panting a moment longer, and then cried out
" Oh, it is n't true!" she said. " It cant be true! But
oh, how true it seems!"
The blazing fire drew her to it, and she knelt down and
held out her hands close to it — so close that the heat made
her start back.
" A fire I only dreamed would n't be liot" she cried.
She sprang up, touched the table, the dishes, the rug ; she
went to the bed and touched the blankets. She took up
the soft wadded dressing-gown, and suddenly clutched it to
her breast and held it to her cheek.
" It 's warm. It 's soft ! " she almost sobbed. " It 's real.
It must be!"
THE MAGIC 211
She threw it over her shoulders, and put her feet into the
" They are real, too. It 's all real!" she cried. " I am
not—1 am not dreaming!"
She almost staggered to the books and opened the one
which lay upon the top. Something was written on the
fly-leaf — just a few words, and they were these:
"To the little girl in the attic. From a friend."
When she saw that— was n't it a strange thing for her to
do?— she put her face down upon the page and burst into
" I don't know who it is," she said; "but somebody cares
for me a httle. I have a friend."
She took her candle and stole out of her own room and
into Becky's, and stood by her bedside.
"Becky, Becky!" she whispered as loudly as she dared.
When Becky wakened, and she sat upright staring
aghast, her face still smudged with traces of tears, beside
her stood a little figure in a luxurious wadded robe of crim-
son silk. The face she saw was a shining, wonderful thing.
The Princess Sara— as she remembered her— stood at her
very bedside, holding a candle in her hand.
" Come," she said. " Oh, Becky, come ! "
Becky was too frightened to speak. She simply got up
and followed her, with her mouth and eyes open, and with-
out a word.
And when they crossed the threshold, Sara shut the door
212 A LITTLE PRINCESS
gently and drew her into the warm, glowing midst of
things which made her brain reel and her hungry senses
" It 's tme! It 's true! " she cried. " I Ve touched them
all. They are as real as we are. The Magic has come and
done it, Becky, while we were asleep— the Magic that won't
let those worst things ever quite happen."
IMAGINE, if you can, what the rest of the evening was
like. How they crouched by the fire which blazed and
leaped and made so much of itself in the little grate.
How they removed the covers of the dishes, and found rich,
hot, savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and sandwiches
and toast and muffins enough for both of them. The mug
from the washstand was used as Becky's tea-cup, and the
tea was so delicious that it was not necessary to pretend that
it was anything else but tea. They were warm and full-fed
and happy, and it was just like Sara that, having found
her strange good fortune real, she should give herself up to
the enjoyment of it to the utmost. She had lived such a
life of imaginings that she was quite equal to accepting any
wonderful thing that happened, and almost to cease, in
a short time, to find it bewildering.
" I don't know any one in the world who could have
done it," she said; "but there has been some one. And
here we are sitting by their fire— and— and— it 's true!
And whoever it is— wherever they are— I have a friend,
Becky— some one is my friend."
It cannot be denied that as they sat before the blazing
214 A LITTLE PRINCESS
fire, and ate the nourishing, comfortable food, they felt a
kind of rapturous awe, and looked into each other's eyes
with something like doubt.
"Do you think," Becky faltered once, in a whisper—
" do you think it could melt away, miss? Had n't we bet-
ter be quick? " And she hastily crammed her sandwich into
her mouth. If it was only a dream, kitchen manners would
" No, it won't melt away," said Sara. " I am eating
this muffin, and I can taste it. You never really eat things
in dreams. You only think you are going to eat them. Be-
sides, I keep giving myself pinches; and I touched a "hot
piece of coal just now, on purpose."
The sleepy comfort which at length almost overpowered
them was a heavenly thing. It was the drowsiness of
happy, well-fed childhood, and they sat in the fire-glow and
luxuriated in it until Sara found herself turning to look
at her transformed bed.
There were even blankets enough to share with Becky.
The narrow couch in the next attic was more comfort-
able that night than its occupant had ever dreamed that it
As she went out of the room, Becky turned upon the
threshold and looked about her with devouring eyes.
" If it ain't here in the mornin', miss," she said, *' it 's
been here to-night, anyways, an' I sha'n't never forget it."
She looked at each particular thing, as if to commit it to
memory. " The fire was there" pointing with her finger,
" an' the table was before it ; an' the lamp was there, an'
THE VISITOR 215
the light looked rosy red; an' there was a satin cover on
your bed, an' a warm rug on the floor, an' everythin'
looked beautiful; an'" — she paused a second, and laid her
hand on her stomach tenderly—" there was soup an' sand-
wiches an' muffins— there was." And, with this conviction
a reality at least, she went away.
Through the mysterious agency which works in schools
and among servants, it was quite well known in the morn-
ing that Sara Crewe was in horrible disgrace, that Ermen-
garde was under punishment, and that Becky would have
been packed out of the house before breakfast, but that a
scullery-maid could not be dispensed with at once. The
servants knew that she was allowed to stay because Miss
Minchin could not easily find another creature helpless and
humble enough to work like a bounden slave for so few shil-
lings a week. The elder girls in the school-room knew
that if Miss Minchin did not send Sara away it was for
practical reasons of her own.
" She 's groMdng so fast and learning such a lot, some-
how," said Jessie to Lavinia, " that she will be given classes
soon, and Miss Minchin knows she will have to work for
nothing. It was rather nasty of you, Lavvy, to tell about
her having fun in the garret. How did you find it out?"
" I got it out of Lottie. She 's such a baby she did n't
know she was telling me. There was nothing nasty at all
in speaking to Miss Minchin. I felt it my duty "— prig-
gishly. " She was being deceitful. And it 's ridiculous
that she should look so grand, and be made so much of, in
her rags and tatters ! "
216 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" What were they doing when Miss Minchin caught
" Pretending some silly thing. Ermengarde had taken
up her hamper to share with Sara and Becky. She never
invites us to share things. Not that I care, but it 's rather
vulgar of her to share with servant-girls in attics. I won-
der Miss Minchin did n't turn Sara out— even if she does
want her for a teacher."
"If she was turned out where would she go?" inquired
Jessie, a trifle anxiously.
"How do I know?" snapj)ed Lavinia. "She '11 look
rather queer when she comes into the school-room this morn-
ing, I should think — after what 's happened. She had no
dinner yesterday, and she 's not to have any to-day."
Jessie was not as ill-natured as she was silly. She picked
up her book with a little jerk.
" Well, I think it 's horrid," she said. " They 've no right
to starve her to death."
When Sara went into the kitchen that morning the cook
looked askance at her, and so did the housemaids; but she
passed them hurriedly. She had, in fact, overslept herself
a little, and as Becky had done the same, neither had had
time to see the other, and each had come down-stairs in
Sara went into the scullery. Becky was violently scrub-
bing a kettle, and was actually gurgling a little song in
her throat. She looked up with a wildly elated face.
" It was there when I wakened, miss— the blanket," she
whispered excitedly. " It was as real as it was last night."
THE VISITOR 217
" So was mine," said Sara. " It is all there now— all
of it. While I was dressing I ate some of the cold things
"Oh, laws! oh, laws!" Becky uttered the exclama-
tion in a sort of rapturous groan, and ducked her head
over her kettle just in time, as the cook came in from the
Miss Minchin had expected to see in Sara, when she
appeared in the school-room, very much what Lavinia had
expected to see. Sara had always been an annoying puzzle
to her, because severity never made her cry or look fright-
ened. When she was scolded she stood still and listened
politely with a grave face ; when she was punished she per-
formed her extra tasks or went without her meals, making
no complaint or outward sign of rebellion. The very fact
that she never made an impudent answer seemed to Miss
Minchin a kind of impudence in itself. But after yes-
terday's deprivation of meals, the violent scene of last
night, the prospect of hunger to-day, she must surely have
broken down. It would be strange indeed if she did not
come down-stairs with pale cheeks and red eyes and an
unhappy, humbled face.
Miss Minchin saw her for the first time when she en-
tered the school-room to hear the little French class its les-
sons and superintend its exercises. And she came in with
a springing step, color in her cheeks, and a smile hover-
ing about the corners of her mouth. It was the most
astonishing thing Miss Minchin had ever known. It gave
her quite a shock. What was the child made of? What
218 A LITTLE PRINCESS
could such a thing mean? She called her at once to her
" You do not look as if you realize that you are in dis-
grace," she said. "Are you absolutely hardened?"
The truth is that when one is still a child— or even if one
is grown up— and has been well fed, and has slept long and
softly and warm ; when one has gone to sleep in the midst
of a fairy story, and has wakened to find it real, one can-
not be unhappy or even look as if one were ; and one could
not, if one tried, keep a glow of joy out of one's eyes.
Miss Minchin was almost struck dumb by the look of Sara's
eyes when she lifted them and made her perfectly respect-
" I beg your pardon, Miss Minchin," she said; " I know
that I am in disgrace."
"Be good enough not to forget it and look as if you
had come into a fortune. It is an impertinence. And re-
member you are to have no food to-day."
" Yes, Miss Minchin," Sara answered; but as she turned
away her heart leaped with the memory of what yesterday
had been. " If the Magic had not saved me just in time,"
she thought, "how horrible it would have been!"
" She can't be very hungry," whispered Lavinia. " Just
look at her. Perhaps she is pretending she has had a good
breakfast"— with a spiteful laugh.
" She 's different from other people," said Jessie, watch-
ing Sara with her class. " Sometimes I 'm a bit frightened
" Ridiculous thing! " ejaculated Lavinia.
THE VISITOR 219
All through the day the light was in Sara's face, and the
color in her cheek. The servants cast puzzled glances at her,
and whispered to each other, and Miss Amelia's small blue
eyes wore an expression of bewilderment. What such an
audacious look of well-being, under august displeasure,
could mean she could not understand. It was, however,
just like Sara's singular obstinate way. She was probably
determined to brave the matter out.
One thing Sara had resolved upon, as she thought things
over. The wonders which had happened must be kept a
secret, if such a thing were possible. If Miss Minchin
should choose to mount to the attic again, of course all
would be discovered. But it did not seem likely that she
would do so for some time at least, unless she was led
by suspicion. Ermengarde and Lottie would be watched
with such strictness that they would not dare to steal out
of their beds again. Ermengarde could be told the story
and trusted to keep it secret. If Lottie made any discov-
eries, she could be bound to secrecy also. Perhaps the
Magic itself would help to hide its own marvels.
" But whatever happens," Sara kept saying to herself
all day—" whatever happens, somewhere in the world there
is a heavenly kind person who is my friend — my friend.
If I never know who it is — if I never can even thank him
— I shall never feel quite so lonely. Oh, the Magic was
good to me ! "
If it was possible for weather to be worse than it had
been the day before, it was worse this day — wetter, mud-
dier, colder. There were more errands to be done, the
220 A LITTLE PRINCESS
cook was more irritable, and, knowing that Sara was in
disgrace, she was more savage. But what does anything
matter when one's Magic has just proved itself one's
friend. Sara's supper of the night before had given her
strength, she knew that she should sleep well and warmly,
and, even though she had naturally begun to be hungry
again before evening, she felt that she could bear it until
breakfast-time on the following day, when her meals would
surely be given to her again. It was quite late when she
was at last allowed to go up-stairs. She had been told
to go into the school-room and study until ten o'clock, and
she had become interested in her work, and remained over
her books later.
When she reached the top flight of stairs and stood be-
fore the attic door, it must be confessed that her heart beat
" Of course it might all have been taken away," she
whispered, trying to be brave. " It might only have been
lent to me for just that one awful night. But it was lent to
me— I had it. It was real."
She pushed the door open and went in. Once inside, she
gasped slightly, shut the door, and stood with her back
against it, looking from side to side.
The Magic had been there again. It actually had, and it
had done even more than before. The fire was blazing, in
lovely leaping flames, more merrily than ever. A num-
ber of new things had been brought into the attic which
so altered the look of it that if she had not been past doubt-
ing, she would have rubbed her eyes. Upon the low table
THE VISITOR 221
another supper stood— this time with cups and plates for
Becky as well as herself; a piece of bright, heavy, strange
embroidery covered the battered mantel, and on it some or-
naments had been placed. All the bare, ugly things which
could be covered with draperies had been concealed and
made to look quite pretty. Some odd materials of rich
colors had been fastened against the wall with fine, sharp
tacks— so sharp that they could be pressed into the wood
and plaster without hammering. Some brilhant fans were
pinned up, and there were several large cushions, big and
substantial enough to use as seats. A wooden box was cov-
ered with a rug, and some cushions lay on it, so that it wore
quite the air of a sofa.
Sara slowly moved away from the door and simply sat
down and looked and looked again.
" It is exactly like something fairy come true," she said.
" There is n't the least difference. I feel as if I might wish
for anything— diamonds or bags of gold— and they would
appear! That would n't be any stranger than this. Is
this my garret? Am I the same cold, ragged, damp Sara?
And to think I used to pretend and pretend and wish there
were fairies! The one thing I always wanted was to see
a fairy story come true. I am living in a fairy story. I
feel as if I might be a fairy myself, and able to turn things
into anything else."
She rose and knocked upon the wall for the prisoner in
the next cell, and the prisoner came.
When she entered she almost dropped in a heap upon
the floor. For a few seconds she quite lost her breath.
222 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"Oh, laws!" she gasped, "Oh, laws, miss!" just as
she had done in the scullery.
" You see," said Sara.
On this night Becky sat on a cushion upon the hearth-
rug and had a cup and saucer of her own.
When Sara went to bed she found that she had a new
thick mattress and big downy pillows. Her old mattress
and pillow had been removed to Becky's bedstead, and, con-
sequently, with these additions Becky had been supplied
with unheard-of comfort.
" Where does it all come from? " Becky broke forth once.
" Laws! who does it, miss? "
" Don't let us even askf said Sara. " If it were not that
I want to say, ' Oh, thank you,' I would rather not know.
It makes it more beautiful."
From that time life became more wonderful day by day.
The fairy story continued. Almost every day something
new was done. Some new comfort or ornament appeared
each time Sara opened the door at night, until in a short
time the attic was a beautiful little room full of all sorts
of odd and luxurious things. The ugly walls were gradu-
ally entirely covered with pictures and draperies, ingenious
pieces of folding furniture appeared, a book-shelf was
hung up and filled with books, new comforts and conve-
niences appeared one by one, until there seemed nothing
left to be desired. When Sara went down-stairs in the
morning, the remains of the supper were on the table ; and
when she returned to the attic in the evening, the magician
had removed them and left another nice little meal. Miss
THE VISITOR 223
Minchin was as harsh and insulting as ever, Miss Amelia
as peevish, and the servants were as vulgar and rude. Sara
was sent on errands in all weathers, and scolded and driven
hither and thither; she was scarcely allowed to speak to
Ermengarde and Lottie ; Lavinia sneered at the increasing
shabbiness of her clothes; and the other girls stared curi-
ously at her when she appeared in the school-room. But
what did it all matter while she was living in this wonderful
mysterious story? It was more romantic and delightful
than anything she had ever invented to comfort her starved
young soul and save herself from despair. Sometimes,
when she was scolded, she could scarcely keep from smil-
"If you only knew!" she was saying to herself. "If
you only knew ! "
The comfort and happiness she enjoyed were making her
stronger, and she had them always to look forward to. If
she came home from her errands wet and tired and hungry,
she knew she would soon be warm and well fed after she
had climbed the stairs. During the hardest day she could
occupy herself blissfully by thinking of what she should
see when she opened the attic door, and wondering what
new delight had been prepared for her. In a very short
time she began to look less thin. Color came into her
cheeks, and her eyes did not seem so much too big for her
" Sara Crewe looks wonderfully well," Miss Minchin
remarked disapprovingly to her sister.
" Yes," answered poor, silly Miss Amelia. " She is ab-
224 A LITTLE PRINCESS
solutely fattening. She was beginning to look like a little
" Starved! " exclaimed Miss Minchin, angrily. " There
was no reason why she should look starved. She always
had plenty to eat!"
" Of — of course," agreed Miss Amelia, humbly, alarmed
to find that she had, as usual, said the wrong thing.
" There is something very disagreeable in seeing that sort
of thing in a child of her age," said Miss Minchin, with
" What— sort of thing? " Miss Ameha ventured.
" It might almost be called defiance," answered Miss
Minchin, feeling annoyed because she knew the thing she
resented was nothing like defiance, and she did not know
what other unpleasant term to use. " The spirit and will
of any other child would have been entirely humbled and
broken by— by the changes she has had to submit to. But,
vipon my word, she seems as little subdued as if —as if she
were a princess."
"Do you remember," put in the unwise INIiss Ameha,
" what she said to you that day in the school-room about
what you would do if you found out that she was—"
" No, I don't," said Miss Minchin. " Don't talk non-
sense." But she remembered very clearly indeed.
Very naturally, even Becky was beginning to look
plumper and less frightened. She could not help it. She
had her share in the secret fairy story, too. She had two
mattresses, two pillows, plenty of bed-covering, and every
night a hot supper and a seat on the cushions by the fire.
THE VISITOR 225
The Bastille had melted away, the prisoners no longer ex-
isted. Two comforted children sat in the midst of delights.
Sometimes Sara read aloud from her books, sometimes she
learned her own lessons, sometimes she sat and looked into
the fire and tried to imagine who her friend could be, and
wished she could say to him some of the things in her heart.
Then it came about that another wonderful thing hap-
pened. A man came to the door and left several parcels.
All were addressed in large letters, " To the Little Girl in
the right-hand attic."
Sara herself was sent to ojoen the door and took them
in. She laid the two largest parcels on the hall table, and
was looking at the address, when Miss Minchin came down
the stairs and saw her,
" Take the things to the young lady to whom they be-
long," she said severely. "Don't stand there staring at
" They belong to me," answered Sara, quietly.
" To you? " exclaimed Miss Minchin. " What do you
" I don't know where they come from," said Sara, " but
they are addressed to me. I sleep in the right-hand attic.
Becky has the other one."
Miss Minchin came to her side and looked at the parcels
with an excited expression.
" What is in them? " she demanded.
" I don't know," replied Sara.
" Open them," she ordered.
Sara did as she was told. When the packages were un-
226 A LITTLE PRINCESS
folded Miss Minchin's countenance wore suddenly a sin-
gular expression. What she saw was pretty and comfort-
able clothing — clothing of different kinds: shoes, stockings,
and gloves, and a warm and beautiful coat. There were
even a nice hat and an umbrella. They were all good
and expensive things, and on the pocket of the coat was
pinned a paper, on which were written these words : "To
be worn every day. — Will be re23laced by others when
Miss Minchin was quite agitated. This was an incident
which suggested strange things to her sordid mind. Could
it be that she had made a mistake, after all, and that the
neglected child had some powerful though eccentric friend
in the background — perhaps some previously unknown re-
lation, who had suddenly traced her whereabouts, and
chose to provide for her in this mysterious and fantastic
way? Relations were sometimes very odd— particularly
rich old bachelor uncles, who did not care for having chil-
dren near them. A man of that sort might prefer to over-
look his young relation's welfare at a distance. Such a
person, however, would be sure to be crotchety and hot-
tempered enough to be easily offended. It would not be
very pleasant if there were such a one, and he should learn
all the truth about the thin, shabby clothes, the scant food,
and the hard work. She felt very queer indeed, and very
uncertain, and she gave a side glance at Sara.
" Well," she said, in a voice such as she had ncA^er used
since the little girl lost her father, "some one is very
kind to you. As the things have been sent, and you are to
THE VISITOR 227
have new ones when they are worn out, you may as well go
and put them on and look respectable. After you are
dressed you may come down-stairs and learn your lessons in
the school-room. You need not go out on any more errands
About half an hour afterward, when the school-room
door opened and Sara walked in, the entire seminary was
struck dumb with amazement.
"My word!" ejaculated Jessie, jogging Lavinia's el-
bow. " Look at the Princess Sara! "
Everybody was looking, and when Lavinia looked she
turned quite red.
It was the Princess Sara indeed. At least, since the days
when she had been a princess, Sara had never looked as she
did now. She did not seem the Sara they had seen come
down the back stairs a few hours ago. She was dressed in
the kind of frock Lavinia had been used to envying her the
possession of. It was deep and warm in color, and beau-
tifully made. Her slender feet looked as they had done
when Jessie had admired them, and the hair, whose heavy
locks had made her look rather like a Shetland pony when
it fell loose about her small, odd face, was tied back with a
" Perhaps some one has left her a fortune," Jessie whis-
pered. " I always thought something would happen to her.
She is so queer."
" Perhaps the diamond-mines have suddenly appeared
again," said Lavinia, scathingly. "Don't please her by
staring at her in that way, you silly thing."
228 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" Sara," broke in Miss Minchin's deep voice, " come and
And while the whole school-room stared and pushed with
elbows, and scarcely made any effort to conceal its excited
curiosity, Sara went to her old seat of honor, and bent her
head over her books.
That night, when she went to her room, after she and
Becky had eaten their supper she sat and looked at the
fire seriously for a long time.
"Are you making something up in your head, miss?"
Becky inquired with respectful softness. When Sara sat
in silence and looked into the coals with dreaming eyes it
generally meant that she was making a new story. But this
time she was not, and she shook her head.
" No," she answered. " I am wondering what I ought to
Becky stared— still respectfully. She was filled with
something approaching reverence for everything Sara did
" I can't help thinking about my friend," Sara explained.
" If he wants to keep himself a secret, it would be rude to
try and find out who he is. But I do so want him to know
how thankful I am to him— and how happy he has made
me. Any one who is kind wants to know when people have
been made happy. They care for that more tiian for being
thanked. I wish— I do wish—"
She stopped short because her eyes at that instant fell
upon something standing on a table in a corner. It was
something she had found in the room when she came up to
THE VISITOR 229
it only two days before. It was a little writing-case fitted
with paper and envelopes and pens and ink.
"Oh," she exclaimed, "why did I not think of that be-
She rose and went to the corner and brought the case
back to the fire.
"I can write to him," she said joyfully, "and leave it
on the table. Then perhaps the person who takes the
things away will take it, too. I won't ask him anything.
He won't mind my thanking him, I feel sure."
So she wrote a note. This is what she said:
" I hope you will not think it is impolite that I should
write this note to you when you wish to keep yourself a
secret. Please believe I do not mean to be impolite or try
to find out anything at all; only I want to thank you
for being so kind to me— so heavenly kind— and making
everything like a fairy story. I am so grateful to you, and
I am so happy — and so is Becky. Becky feels just as
thankful as I do — it is all just as beautiful and wonderful
to her as it is to me. We used to be so lonely and cold and
hungrj% and now — oh, just think what you have done for
us! Please let me say just these words. It seems as if I
ought to say them. Thank you— thank you— thank you!
" The Little Girl in the Attic."
The next morning she left this on the little table, and
in the evening it had been taken away with the other things ;
so she knew the Magician had received it, and she was
230 A LITTLE PRINCESS
happier for the thought. She was reading one of her
new books to Becky just before they went to their
respective beds, when her attention was attracted by a
sound at the skyhght. When she looked up from her
page she saw that Becky had heard the sound also, as she
had turned her head to look and was listening rather
" Something 's there, miss," she whispered.
" Yes," said Sara, slowly. " It sounds— rather like a cat
—trying to get in."
She left her chair and went to the skylight. It was a
queer little sound she heard — like a soft scratching. She
suddenly remembered something and laughed. She re-
membered a quaint little intruder who had made his way
into the attic once before. She had seen him that very af-
ternoon, sitting disconsolately on a table before a window
in the Indian gentleman's house.
" Suppose," she whispered in pleased excitement—" just
suppose it was the monkey who had got away again. Oh,
I wish it was!"
She climbed on a chair, very cautiously raised the sky-
light, and peeped out. It had been snowing all day, and on
the snow, quite near her, crouched a tiny, shivering figure,
whose small black face wrinkled itself piteously at sight
" It is the monkey," she cried out. " He has crept out
of the Lascar's attic, and he saw the light."
Becky ran to her side.
"Are you going to let him in, miss?" she said.
She sat down and held him un lier knee.
THE VISITOR 231
" Yes," Sara answered joyfully. " It 's too cold for
monkeys to be out. They 're delicate. I '11 coax him in."
She put a hand out delicately, speaking in a coaxing
voice— as she spoke to the sparrows and to Melchisedec—
as if she were some friendly little animal herself and lov-
ingly understood their timid wildness.
" Come along, monkey darling," she said. " I won't
He knew she would not hurt him. He knew it before she
laid her soft, caressing little paw on him and drew him
toward her. He had felt human love in the slim brown
hands of Ram Dass, and he felt it in hers. He let her
lift him through the skylight, and when he found him-
self in her arms he cuddled up to her breast and took
friendly hold of a piece of her hair, looking up into her
" Nice monkey ! Nice monkey ! " she crooned, kissing his
funny head. " Oh, I do love little animal things."
He was evidently glad to get to the fire, and when she
sat down and held him on her knee he looked from her to
Becky with mingled interest and appreciation.
" He is plain-looking, miss, ain't he? " said Becky.
" He looks like a very ugly baby," laughed Sara. " I
beg your pardon, monkey; but I 'm glad you are not a
baby. Your mother could n't be proud of you, and no one
would dare to say you looked like any of your relations.
Oh, I do like you!"
She leaned back in her chair and reflected.
" Perhaps he 's sorry he 's so ugly," she said, " and it 's
232 A LITTLE PRINCESS
always on his mind. I wonder if he has a mind. Monkey,
my love, have you a mind? "
But the monkey only put up a tiny paw and scratched
"What shall j^ou do with him?" Becky asked.
" I shall let him sleep with me to-night, and then take
him back to the Indian gentleman to-morrow. I am sorry
to take you back, monkey; but you must go. You ought
to be fondest of your own family; and I 'm not a real
And when she went to bed she made him a nest at her
feet, and he curled up and slept there as if he were a baby
and much pleased with his quarters.
"IT IS THE CHILD!"
THE next afternoon three members of the Large
Family sat in the Indian gentleman's library, do-
ing their best to cheer him up. They had been
allowed to come in to perform this office because he had
specially invited them. He had been living in a state of
suspense for some time, and to-day he was waiting for
a certain event very anxiously. This event was the return
of Mr. Carmichael from Moscow. His stay there had been
prolonged from week to week. On his first arrival there,
he had not been able satisfactorily to trace the family he
had gone in search of. When he felt at last sure that he
had found them and had gone to their house, he had been
told that they were absent on a journey. His efforts to
reach them had been unavailing, so he had decided to re-
main in Moscow until their return. Mr. Carrisford sat in
his reclining-chair, and Janet sat on the floor beside him.
He was very fond of Janet. Nora had found a footstool,
and Donald was astride the tiger's head which orna-
mented the rug made of the animal's skin. It must be
owned that he was riding it rather violently.
" Don't chirrup so loud, Donald," Janet said. " When
234 A LITTLE PRINCESS
you come to cheer an ill person up you don't cheer him
up at the top of your voice. Perhaps cheering up is too
loud, Mr. Carrisford?" turning to the Indian gentle-
But he only patted her shoulder.
" No, it is n't," he answered. " And it keeps me from
thinking too much."
" I 'm going to be quiet," Donald shouted. " We '11 all
be as quiet as mice."
" Mice don't make a noise like that," said Janet.
Donald made a bridle of his handkerchief and bounced
up and down on the tiger's head.
" A whole lot of mice might," he said cheerfully. " A
thousand mice might."
" I don't believe fifty thousand mice would," said Janet,
severely; " and we have to be as quiet as one mouse."
Mr. Carrisford laughed and patted her shoulder again.
" Papa won't be very long now," she said. " May we
talk about the lost little girl? "
" I don't think I could talk much about anything else
just now," the Indian gentleman answered, knitting his
forehead with a tired look.
" We like her so much," said Nora. " We call her the
little ww-fairy princess."
"Why?" the Indian gentleman inquired, because the
fancies of the Large Family always made him forget
things a little.
It was Janet who answered.
" It is because, though she is not exactly a fairy, she will
"IT IS THE CHILD!" 235
be so rich when she is found that she will be hke a princess
in a fairy tale. We called her the fairy princess at first, but
it did n't quite suit."
" Is it true," said Nora, " that her papa gave all his
money to a friend to put in a mine that had diamonds in
it, and then the friend thought he had lost it all and ran
away because he felt as if he was a robber? "
"But he was n't really, you know," put in Janet, hastily.
The Indian gentleman took hold of her hand quickly.
" No, he was n't really," he said.
" I am sorry for the friend," Janet said; " I can't help it.
He did n't mean to do it, and it would break his heart. I
am sure it would break his heart."
" You are an understanding little woman, Janet," the
Indian gentleman said, and he held her hand close.
" Did you tell Mr. Carrisford," Donald shouted again,
" about the little-girl-who-is-n't-a-beggar? Did you tell
him she has new nice clothes? P'r'aps she 's been found by
somebody when she was lost."
" There 's a cab! " exclaimed Janet. " It 's stopping be-
fore the door. It is papa!"
They all ran to the windows to look out.
" Yes, it 's papa," Donald proclaimed. " But there is no
All three of them incontinently fled from the room and
tumbled into the hall. It was in this way they always wel-
comed their father. They were to be heard jumping up
and down, clapping their hands, and being caught up and
236 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Mr. Carrisford made an effort to rise and sank back
again into his chair.
" It is no use," he said. " What a wreck I am! "
Mr. Carmichael's voice approached the door.
" No, children," he was saying; " you may come in after
I have talked to Mr. Carrisford. Go and play with Ram
Then the door opened and he came in. He looked
rosier than ever, and brought an atmosphere of freshness
and health with him; but his eyes were disappointed and
anxious as they met the invalid's look of eager question
even as they grasped each other's hands,
"What news?" Mr. Carrisford asked. "The child the
Russian people adopted? "
" She is not the child we are looking for," was Mr. Car-
michael's answer. " She is much younger than Captain
Crewe's little girl. Her name is Emily Carew. I have
seen and talked to her. The Russians were able to give
me every detail."
How wearied and miserable the Indian gentleman
looked! His hand dropped from Mr. Carmichael's.
" Then the search has to be begun over again," he said.
" That is all. Please sit down."
Mr. Carmichael took a seat. Somehow, he had gradually
grown fond of this unhappy man. He was himself so well
and happy, and so surrounded by cheerfulness and love,
that desolation and broken health seemed pitifully unbear-
able things. If there had been the sound of just one gay
little high-pitched voice in the house, it would have been
"IT IS THE CHILD!" 237
so much less forlorn. And that a man should be compelled
to carry about in his breast the thought that he had
seemed to wrong and desert a child was not a thing one
" Come, come," he said in his cheery voice; "we '11 find
" We must begin at once. No time must be lost," Mr.
Carrisford fretted. " Have you any new suggestion to
make— any whatsoever?"
Mr. Carmichael felt rather restless, and he rose and be-
gan to pace the room with a thoughtful, though uncertain
" Well, perhaps," he said. " I don't know what it may be
worth. The fact is, an idea occurred to me as I was think-
ing the thing over in the train on the journey from Dover."
" What was it? If she is alive, she is somewhere."
" Yes; she is somewhere. We have searched the schools
in Paris. Let us give up Paris and begin in London.
That was my idea— to search London."
" There are schools enough in London," said Mr. Car-
risford. Then he slightly started, roused by a recollection.
"By the way, there is one next door."
" Then we will begin there. We cannot begin nearer
than next door."
" No," said Carrisford. " There is a child there who in-
terests me ; but she is not a pupil. And she is a little dark,
forlorn creature, as unlike poor Crewe as a child could be."
Perhaps the Magic was at work again at that very mo-
ment- the beautiful Magic. It really seemed as if it might
238 A LITTLE PRINCESS
be so. What was it that brought Ram Dass into the room
—even as his master spoke— salaaming respectfully, but
with a scarcely concealed touch of excitement in his dark,
flashing eyes ?
" Sahib," he said, "the child herself has come— the child
the sahib felt pity for. She brings back the monkey who
had again run away to her attic under the roof. I have
asked that she remain. It was my thought that it would
please the sahib to see and speak with her."
"Who is she?" inquired Mr. Carmichael.
" God knows," Mr. Carrisford answered. " She is the
child I spoke of. A little drudge at the school." He
waved his hand to Ram Dass, and addressed him. " Yes, I
should like to see her. Go and bring her in." Then he
turned to Mr. Carmichael. " While you have been away,"
he explained, " I have been desperate. The days were so
dark and long. Ram Dass told me of this child's miseries,
and together we invented a romantic plan to help her. I
suppose it was a childish thing to do ; but it gave me some-
thing to plan and think of. Without the help of an agile,
soft-footed Oriental like Ram Dass, however, it could not
have been done."
Then Sara came into the room. She carried the monkey
in her arms, and he evidently did not intend to part from
her, if it could be helped. He was clinging to her and chat-
tering, and the interesting excitement of finding herself in
the Indian gentleman's room had brought a flush to Sara's
" Your monkey ran away again," she said, in her pretty
"IT IS THE CHILD!" 239
voice. *' He came to my garret window last night, and I
took him in because it was so cold. I would have brought
him back if it had not been so late. I knew you were ill
and might not like to be disturbed."
The Indian gentleman's hollow eyes dwelt on her with
" That was very thoughtful of you," he said.
Sara looked toward Ram Dass, who stood near the door.
" Shall I give him to the Lascar? " she asked.
"How do you know he is a Lascar?" said the Indian
gentleman, smiling a little.
" Oh, I know Lascars," Sara said, handing over the re-
luctant monkey. " I was born in India."
The Indian gentleman sat upright so suddenly, and with
such a change of expression, that she was for a moment
"You were born in India," he exclaimed, "were you?
Come here." And he held out his hand.
Sara went to him and laid her hand in his, as he seemed
to want to take it. She stood still, and her green-gray eyes
met his wonderingly. Something seemed to be the matter
" You live next door? " he demanded.
" Yes ; I live at Miss Minchin's seminary."
" But you are not one of her pupils? "
A strange little smile hovered about Sara's mouth. She
hesitated a moment.
" I don't think I know exactly what I am," she replied.
240 A LITTLE PRINCESS
"At first I was a pupil, and a parlor-boarder; but
" You were a pupil! What are you now? "
The queer little sad smile was on Sara's lips again.
" I sleep in the attic, next to the scullery -maid," she said.
" I run errands for the cook— I do anything she tells me;
and I teach the little ones their lessons."
" Question her, Carmichael," said Mr. Carrisford, sink-
ing back as if he had lost his strength. " Question her; I
The big, kind father of the Large Family knew how to
question little girls. Sara realized how much practice he
had had when he spoke to her in his nice, encouraging
"What do you mean by 'At first,' my child?" he in-
" When I was first taken there by my papa."
" Where is your papa? "
" He died," said Sara, very quietly. " He lost all his
money and there was none left for me. There was no one
to take care of me or to pay Miss Minchin."
"Carmichael!" the Indian gentleman cried out loudly;
" We must not frighten her," Mr. Carmichael said aside
to him in a quick, low voice; and he added aloud to Sara:
" So you were sent up into the attic, and made into a little
drudge. That was about it, was n't it? "
" There was no one to take care of me," said Sara.
" There was no money ; I belong to nobody."
"IT IS THE CHILD!" 241
" How did your father lose his money? " the Indian gen-
tleman broke in breathlessly.
" He did not lose it himself," Sara answered, wondering
still more each moment. " He had a friend he was very
fond of —he was very fond of him. It was his friend who
took his money. He trusted his friend too much."
The Indian gentleman's breath came more quickly.
" The friend might have meant to do no harm," he said.
" It might have happened through a mistake."
Sara did not know how unrelenting her quiet young
voice sounded as she answered. If she had known, she
would surely have tried to soften it for the Indian gentle-
" The suffering was just as bad for my papa," she said.
" It killed him."
" What was your father's name? " the Indian gentleman
said. "Tell me."
" His name was Ralph Crewe," Sara answered, feeling
startled. " Captain Crewe. He died in India."
The haggard face contracted, and Ram Dass sprang to
his master's side.
" Carmichael," the invahd gasped, " it is the child—
For a moment Sara thought he was going to die. Ram
Dass poured out drops from a bottle, and held them to his
lips. Sara stood near, trembling a Httle. She looked in a
bewildered way at Mr. Carmichael.
" What child am I? " she faltered.
"He was your father's friend," Mr. Carmichael an-
242 A LITTLE PRINCESS
swered her. " Don't be frightened. We have been looking
for you for two years."
Sara put her hand up to her forehead, and her mouth
trembled. She spoke as if she were in a dream.
" And I was at Miss Minchin's all the while," she half
whispered. " Just on the other side of the wall."
"I TRIED NOT TO BE"
IT was pretty, comfortable Mrs. Carmichael who ex-
plained everything. She was sent for at once, and
came across the square to take Sara into her warm
arms and make clear to her all that had happened. The ex-
citement of the totally unexpected discovery had been tem-
porarily almost overpowering to Mr. Carrisf ord in his weak
" Upon my word," he said faintly to Mr. Carmichael,
when it was suggested that the little girl should go into
another room, " I feel as if I do not want to lose sight of
" I will take care of her," Jan^t said, " and mamma will
come in a few minutes." And it was Janet who led her
" We 're so glad you are found," she said. " You don't
know how glad we are that you are found."
Donald stood with his hands in his pockets, and gazed
at Sara with reflecting and self -reproachful eyes.
"If I 'd just asked what your name was when I gave
you my sixpence," he said, " you would have told me it was
244 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Sara Crewe, and then you would have been found in a
Then Mrs. Carmichael came in. She looked very much
moved, and suddenly took Sara in her arms and kissed her.
" You look bewildered, poor child," she said. " And it is
not to be wondered at."
Sara could only think of one thing.
"Was he," she said, with a glance toward the closed
door of the library — "was he the wicked friend? Oh, do
Mrs. Carmichael was crying as she kissed her again.
She felt as if she ought to be kissed very often because she
had not been kissed for so long.
" He was not wicked, my dear," she answered. " He did
not really lose your papa's monej^ He only thought he
had lost it; and because he loved him so much his grief
made him so ill that for a time he was not in his right mind.
He almost died of brain-fever, and long before he began to
recover j^our poor papa was dead."
"And he did not know where to find me," murmured
Sara. " And I was so near." Somehow, she could not for-
get that she had been so near.
" He believed you were in school in France," Mrs. Car-
michael explained. " And he was continually misled by
false clues. He has looked for you everywhere. When
he saw you pass by, looking so sad and neglected, he did
not dream that you were his friend's poor child; but be-
cause you were a little girl, too, he was sorry for you, and
wanted to make you happier. And he told Ram Dass to
"I TRIED NOT TO BE" 245
climb into your attic window and try to make you com-
Sara gave a start of joy; her whole look changed.
" Did Ram Dass bring the things? " she cried out; " did
he tell Ram Dass to do it? Did he make the dream that
came true ! "
" Yes, my dear— yes! He is kind and good, and he was
sorry for you, for little lost Sara Crewe's sake."
The library door opened and Mr. Carmichael appeared,
calling Sara to him with a gesture.
" Mr. Carrisford is better already," he said. " He wants
you to come to him."
Sara did not wait. When the Indian gentleman looked
at her as she entered, he saw that her face was all alight.
She went and stood before his chair, with her hands
clasjDcd together against her breast.
" You sent the things to me," she said, in a joyful emo-
tional little voice— "the beautiful, beautiful things? You
" Yes, poor, dear child, I did," he answered her. He
was weak and broken with long illness and trouble, but he
looked at her with the look she remembered in her father's
eyes— that look of loving her and wanting to take her in
his arms. It made her kneel down by him, just as she used
to kneel by her father when they were the dearest friends
and lovers in the world.
"Then it is you who are my friend," she said; "it is
you who are my friend ! " And she dropped her face on
his thin hand and kissed it again and again.
246 A LITTLE PRINCESS
" The man will be himself again in three weeks," Mr.
Carmichael said aside to his wife. " Look at his face al-
In fact, he did look changed. Here was the "Httle mis-
sus," and he had new things to think of and plan for al-
ready. In the first place, there was Miss Minchin. She
must be interviewed and told of the change which had
taken place in the fortunes of her pupil.
Sara was not to return to the seminary at all. The In-
dian gentleman was very determined upon that point. She
must remain where she was, and INIr. Carmichael should go
and see Miss Minchin himself.
" I am glad I need not go back," said Sara. " She will
be very angry. She does not like me ; though perhaps it is
my fault, because I do not like her."
But, oddly enough. Miss Minchin made it unnecessary
for Mr. Carmichael to go to her, by actually coming in
search of her pupil herself. She had wanted Sara for
something, and on inquirj^ had heard an astonishing thing.
One of the housemaids had seen her steal out of the area
with something hidden under her cloak, and had also seen
her go up the steps of the next door and enter the house.
"What does she mean!" cried Miss Minchin to Miss
" I don't know, I 'm sure, sister," answered Miss Amelia.
" Unless she has made friends with him because he has lived
" It would be just like her to thrust herself upon him
and try to gain his sympathies in some such impertinent
"I TRIED NOT TO BE" 247
fashion," said Miss Minchin. " She must have been in the
house two hours. I will not allow such presumption. I
shall go and inquire into the matter, and apologize for her
Sara was sitting on a footstool close to ^Ir. Carrisford's
knee, and listening to some of the many things he felt it ne-
cessary to try to explain to her, when Ram Dass announced
the visitor's arrival.
Sara rose involuntarily, and became rather pale ; but Mr.
Carrisford saw that she stood quietly, and showed none of
the ordinary signs of child terror.
Miss Minchin entered the room with a sternly dignified
manner. She was correctly and well dressed, and rigidly
" I am sorry to disturb Mr. Carrisford," she said; "but
I have explanations to make. I am Miss Minchin, the pro-
prietress of the Young Ladies' Seminary next door."
The Indian gentleman looked at her for a moment in
silent scrutiny. He was a man who had naturally a rather
hot temper, and he did not wish it to get too much the bet-
ter of him.
" So you are Miss Minchin? " he said.
" I am, sir."
" In that case," the Indian gentleman replied, " you have
arrived at the right time. ^ly solicitor, INIr. Carmichael,
was just on the point of going to see you."
Mr. Carmichael bowed slightly, and Miss ^linchin
looked from him to INIr. Carrisford in amazement.
"Your solicitor!" she said. "I do not understand. I
248 A LITTLE PRINCESS
have come here as a matter of duty. I have just discovered
that you have been intruded upon through the forwardness
of one of my pupils— a charity pupil. I came to explain
that she intruded without my knowledge." She turned
upon Sara. " Go home at once," she commanded indig-
nantly. " You shall be severely punished. Go home at
The Indian gentleman drew Sara to his side and patted
" She is not going."
Miss Minchin felt rather as if she must be losing her
" Not going! " she repeated.
" No," said Mr. Carrisford. " She is not going home—
if you give your house that name. Her home for the fu-
ture will be with me."
Miss Minchin fell back in amazed indignation.
" With you! With you, sir ! What does this mean? "
" Kindly explain the matter, Carmichael," said the In-
dian gentleman; "and get it over as quickly as possible."
And he made Sara sit down again, and held her hands in
his— which was another trick of her papa's.
Then Mr. Carmichael explained— in the quiet, level-
toned, steady manner of a man who knew his subject, and
all its legal significance, which was a thing Miss Minchin
understood as a business woman, and did not enjoy.
" Mr. Carrisford, madam," he said, " was an intimate
friend of the late Captain Crewe. He was his partner in
certain large investments. The fortune which Captain
" I TRIED NOT TO BE " 249
Crewe supposed he had lost has been recovered, and is now
in Mr. Carrisford's hands."
" The fortune! " cried Miss Minchin; and she really lost
color as she uttered the exclamation. "Sara's fortune!"
" It will be Sara's fortune," replied Mr. Carmichael, ra-
ther coldly. " It is Sara's fortune now, in fact. Certain
events have increased it enormously. The diamond-mines
have retrieved themselves."
"The diamond-mines!" Miss Minchin gasped out. If
this was true, nothing so horrible, she felt, had ever hap-
pened to her since she was born.
" The diamond-mines," Mr. Carmichael repeated, and he
could not help adding, with a rather sly, unlawyer-like
smile: " There are not many princesses, Miss Minchin, who
are richer than your little charity pupil, Sara Crewe, will
be. Mr. Carrisford has been searching for her for nearly
two years ; he has found her at last, and he will keep her."
After which he asked Miss Minchin to sit down while
he explained matters to her fully, and went into such
detail as was necessary to make it quite clear to her that
Sara's future was an assured one, and that what had
seemed to be lost was to be restored to her tenfold; also,
that she had in Mr. Carrisford a guardian as well as a
Miss Minchin was not a clever woman, and in her ex-
citement she was silly enough to make one desperate ef-
fort to regain what she could not help seeing she had lost
through her own worldly folly.
" He found her under my care," she protested. " I have
250 A LITTLE PRINCESS
done everything for her. But for me she would have
starved in the streets."
Here the Indian gentleman lost his temper.
" As to starving in the streets," he said, " she might have
starved more comfortably there than in your attic."
" Captain Crewe left her in my charge," Miss Minchin
argued. " She must return to it until she is of age. She
can be a parlor-boarder again. She must finish her edu-
cation. The law will interfere in my behalf."
" Come, come. Miss Minchin," Mr. Carmichael inter-
posed, " the law will do nothing of the sort. If Sara her-
self wishes to return to you, I dare say Mr. Carrisford
might not refuse to allow it. But that rests with Sara."
" Then," said ^liss ^linchin, " I appeal to Sara. I
have not spoiled you, perhaps," she said awkwardly to the
little girl; " but you know that your papa was pleased with
your progress. And— ahem!— I have always been fond of
Sara's green-gray eyes fixed themselves on her with the
quiet, clear look Miss Minchin particularly disliked.
" Have you, ^liss Minchin? " she said; " I did not know
Miss Minchin reddened and drew herself up.
" You ought to have known it," said she; " but children,
unfortunately, never know what is best for them. Ame-
lia and I always said you were the cleverest child in the
school. Will you not do your duty to your poor papa and
come home with me? "
Sara took a step toward her and stood still. She was
" I TRIED NOT TO BE " 251
thinking of the day when she had been told that she be-
longed to nobody, and was in danger of being turned into
the street; she was thinking of the cold, hungry hours she
had spent alone with Emily and Melchisedec in the attic.
She looked JVIiss Minchin steadily in the face,
" You know why I will not go home with you, Miss
Minchin," she said ; " you know quite well."
A hot flush showed itself on Miss JNIinchin's hard, angry
" You will never see your companions again," she be-
gan. " I will see that Ermengarde and Lottie are kept
Mr. Carmichael stopped her with polite firmness.
" Excuse me," he said; " she will see any one she wishes
to see. The parents of Miss Crewe's fellow-pupils are not
likely to refuse her invitations to visit her at her guardian's
house. Mr. Carrisford will attend to that."
It must be confessed that even Miss Minchin flinched.
This was worse than the eccentric bachelor uncle who might
have a peppery temper and be easily ofl'ended at the treat-
ment of his niece. A woman of sordid mind could easily
believe that most people would not refuse to allow their
children to remain friends with a little heiress of diamond-
mines. And if Mr. Carrisford chose to tell certain of
her patrons how unhappy Sara Crewe had been made,
many unpleasant things might happen.
" You have not undertaken an easy charge," she said to
the Indian gentleman, as she turned to leave the room;
"you will discover that very soon. The child is neither
252 A LITTLE PRINCESS
truthful nor grateful. I suppose"— to Sara— "that you
feel now that you are a princess again."
Sara looked down and flushed a little, because she
thought her pet fancy might not be easy for strangers —
even nice ones— to understand at first.
"I — tried not to be anything else," she answered in a
low voice — "even when I was coldest and hungriest — I
tiied not to be."
" Now it will not be necessary to try," said Miss Min-
chin, acidly, as Ram Dass salaamed her out of the room.
She returned home and, going to her sitting-room, sent at
once for Miss Amelia. She sat closeted with her all the rest
of the afternoon, and it must be admitted that poor Miss
Amelia passed through more than one bad quarter of an
hour. She shed a good many tears, and mopped her eyes
a good deal. One of her unfortunate remarks almost
caused her sister to snap her head entirely off, but it re-
sulted in an unusual manner.
" I 'm not as clever as you, sister," she said, " and I am
always afraid to say things to you for fear of making you
angry. Perhaps if I were not so timid it would be better
for the school and for both of us. I must say I 've often
thought it would have been better if you had been less
severe on Sara Crewe, and had seen that she was decently
dressed and more comfortable. I know she was worked
too hard for a child of her age, and I know she was only
" I TRIED NOT TO BE " 253
" How dare you say such a thing! " exclaimed Miss Min-
" I don't know how I dare," Miss Ameha answered, with
a kind of reckless courage; "but now I 've begun I may
as well finish, whatever hajipens to me. The child was a
clever child and a good child— and she would have paid
you for any kindness you had shown her. But you did n't
show her any. The fact was, she was too clever for you,
and you alwaj^s disliked her for that reason. She used to
see through us both — "
"Amelia!" gasped her infuriated elder, looking as if
she would box her ears and knock her cap off, as she had
often done to Becky.
But Miss Amelia's disappointment had made her hys-
terical enough not to care what occurred next.
" She did! She did!" she cried. " She saw through us
both. She saw that you were a hard-hearted, worldly wo-
man, and that I was a weak fool, and that we were both
of us vulgar and mean enough to grovel on our knees
before her money, and behave ill to her because it was taken
from her — though she behaved herself Hke a little prin-
cess even when she was a beggar. She did — she did — like
a little princess!" and her hysterics got the better of the
poor woman, and she began to laugh and cry both at once,
and rock herself backward and forward in such a way as
made Miss Minchin stare aghast.
" And now you 've lost her," she cried wildly; " and some
other school will get her and her money; and if she were
like any other child she 'd tell how she 's been treated, and
254 A LITTLE PRINCESS
all our pupils would be taken away and we should be
ruined. And it serves us right ; but it serves you right more
than it does me, for you are a hard woman, Maria Minchin
—you're a hard, selfish, worldly woman!"
And she was in danger of making so much noise with
her hysterical chokes and gurgles that her sister was
obliged to go to her and apply salts and sal volatile to
quiet her, instead of pouring forth her indignation at her
And from that time forward, it may be mentioned,
the elder Miss Minchin actually began to stand a little
in awe of a sister who, while she looked so foolish, was
evidently not quite so foolish as she looked, and might, con-
sequently, break out and speak truths people did not want
That evening, when the pupils were gathered together
before the fire in the school-room, as was their custom
before going to bed, Ermengarde came in with a letter in
her hand and a queer expression on her round face. It was
queer because, while it was an expression of delighted ex-
citement, it was combined with such amazement as seemed
to belong to a kind of shock just received.
" What is the matter? " cried two or three voices at once.
"Is it anything to do with the row that has been going
on?" said Lavinia, eagerly. " There has been such a row
in Miss Minchin's room, JMiss Amelia has had something
like hysterics and has had to go to bed."
Ermengarde answered them slowly as if she were half
" I TRIED NOT TO BE " 255
" I have just had this letter from Sara," she said, holding
it out to let them see what a long letter it was.
" From Sara! " Every voice joined in that exclamation.
" Where is she? " almost shrieked Jessie.
"Next door," said Ermengarde, still slowly; "with the
"Where? Where? Has she been sent away? Does
Miss Minchin know? Was the row about that? Why did
she write? Tell us! Tell us!"
There was a perfect babel, and Lottie began to cry
Ermengarde answered them slowly as if she were half
plunged out into what, at the moment, seemed the most
important and self -explaining thing.
"There were diamond-mines," she said stoutly; "there
Open mouths and open eyes confronted her.
" They were real," she hurried on. " It was all a mis-
take about them. Something happened for a time, and
Mr. Carrisford thought they were ruined—"
"Who is Mr. Carrisford?" shouted Jessie.
" The Indian gentleman. And Captain Crewe thought
so, too— and he died; and Mr. Carrisfoi*d had brain-fever
and ran away, and he almost died. And he did not know
where Sara was. And it turned out that there were mil-
lions and milUons of diamonds in the mines; and half of
them belong to Sara; and they belonged to her when she
was living in the attic with no one but ^lelchisedec for a
friend, and the cook ordering her about. And INIr. Carris-
256 A LITTLE PRINCESS
ford found her this afternoon, and he has got her in his
home — and she will never come back — and she will be more
a princess than she ever was— a hundred and fifty thou-
sand times more. And I am going to see her to-morrow af-
ternoon. There ! "
Even Miss Minchin herself could scarcely have con-
trolled the uproar after this; and though she heard the
noise, she did not try. She was not in the mood to face any-
thing more than she was facing in her room, while Miss
Ameha was weeping in bed. She knew that the news had
penetrated the walls in some mysterious manner, and that
every servant and every child would go to bed talking
So until almost midnight the entire seminary, realizing
somehow that all rules were laid aside, crowded round Er-
mengarde in the school-room and heard read and re-read the
letter containing a story which was quite as wonderful as
any Sara herself had ever invented, and which had the
amazing charm of having happened to Sara herself and
the mystic Indian gentleman in the very next liouse.
Becky, who had heard it also, managed to creep up-stairs
earlier than usual. She wanted to get away from people
and go and look at the little magic room once more. She
did not know what would happen to it. It was not likely
that it would be left to Miss Minchin. It would be taken
away, and the attic would be bare and empty again. Glad
as she was for Sara's sake, she went up the last flight of
stairs with a lump in her throat and tears blurring her
sight. There would be no fire to-night, and no rosy lamp ;
" I TRIED NOT TO BE " 257
no supper, and no princess sitting in the glow reading or
telling stories — no princess!
She choked down a sob as she pushed the attic door open,
and then she broke into a low cry.
The lamp was flushing the room, the fire was blazing, the
supper was waiting; and Ram Dass was standing smiling
into her startled face.
" Missee sahib remembered," he said. " She told the
sahib all. She wished you to know the good fortune which
has befallen her. Behold a letter on the tray. She has
written. She did not wish that you should go to sleep un-
happy. The sahib commands you to come to him to-mor-
row. You are to be the attendant of missee sahib. To-
night I take these things back over the roof."
And having said this with a beaming face, he made a
little salaam and slipped through the skylight with an agile
silentness of movement which showed Becky how easily he
had done it before.
NEVER had such joy reigned in the nursery of the
Large Family. Never had they dreamed of such
delights as resulted from an intimate acquaintance
with the little-girl-who-was-not-a-beggar. The mere fact
of her suif erings and adventures made her a priceless pos-
session. Everybody wanted to be told over and over again
the things which had happened to her. When one was sit-
ting by a warm fire in a big, glowing room, it was quite
delightful to hear how cold it could be in an attic. It
must be admitted that the attic was rather delighted in, and
that its coldness and bareness quite sank into insignifi-
cance when ^lelchisedec was remembered, and one heard
about the sparrows and things one could see if one climbed
on the table and stuck one's head and shoulders out of the
Of course the thing loved best was the story of the ban-
quet and the dream which was true. Sara told it for the
first time the day after she had been found. Several mem-
bers of the Large Family came to take tea with her, and
as they sat or curled up on the hearth-rug she told the story
in her own way, and the Indian gentleman hstened and
" ANNE " 259
watched her. When she had finished she looked up at him
and put her hand on his knee.
" That is my part," she said. " Now won't you tell your
part of it, Uncle Tom?" He had asked her to call him
always " Uncle Tom." " I don't know your part yet, and
it must be beautiful."
So he told them how, when he sat alone, ill and dull and
irritable, Ram Dass had tried to distract him by describing
the passers by, and there was one child who passed oftener
than any one else; he had begun to be interested in her—
partly perhaps because he was thinking a great deal of a
little girl, and partly because Ram Dass had been able to
relate the incident of his visit to the attic in chase of the
monkey. He had described its cheerless look, and the bear-
ing of the child, who seemed as if she was not of the class
of those who were treated as drudges and servants. Bit
by bit, Ram Dass had made discoveries concerning the
wretchedness of her hfe. He had found out how easy a
matter it was to climb across the few yards of roof to the
skylight, and this fact had been the beginning of all that
" Sahib," he had said one day, " I could cross the slates
and make the child a fire when she is out on some errand.
When she returned, wet and cold, to find it blazing, she
would think a magician had done it."
The idea had been so fanciful that JNIr. Carrisford's sad
face had lighted with a smile, and Ram Dass had been so
filled with rapture that he had enlarged upon it and ex-
plained to his master how simple it would be to accomplish
260 A LITTLE PRINCESS
numbers of other things. He had shown a childlike plea-
sure and invention, and the preparations for the carrying
out of the plan had filled many a day with interest which
would otherwise have dragged wearily. On the night of the
frustrated banquet Ram Dass had kept watch, all his pack-
ages being in readiness in the attic which was his own ; and
the person who was to help him had waited with him, as in-
terested as himself in the odd adventure. Ram Dass had
been lying flat upon the slates, looking in at the skyhght,
when the banquet had come to its disastrous conclusion;
he had been sure of the profoundness of Sara's wearied
sleep; and then, with a dark lantern, he had crept into the
room, while his companion had remained outside and
handed the things to him. When Sara had stirred ever so
faintly, Ram Dass had closed the lantern-slide and lain
flat upon the floor. These and many other exciting things
the children found out by asking a thousand questions.
"I am so glad," Sara said. "I am so glad it was you
who were my friend! "
There never were such friends as these two became.
Somehow, they seemed to suit each other in a wonderful
way. The Indian gentleman had never had a companion
he liked quite as much as he liked Sara. In a month's time
he was, as Mr. Carmichael had prophesied he would be, a
new man. He was always amused and interested, and he
began to find an actual pleasure in the possession of the
wealth he had imagined that he loathed the burden of.
There were so many charming things to plan for Sara.
There was a little joke between them that he was a magi-
Noticed that his companion ... sat gazing into the fire.
" ANNE " 261
cian, and it was one of his pleasures to invent things to
surprise her. She found beautiful new flowers growing
in her room, whimsical little gifts tucked under pillows,
and once, as they sat together in the evening, they heard
the scratch of a heavy paw on the door, and when Sara went
to find out what it was, there stood a great dog— a splendid
Russian boarhound— with a grand silver and gold collar
bearing an inscription in raised letters. " I am Boris," it
read; " I serve the Princess Sara."
There was nothing the Indian gentleman loved more
than the recollection of the little princess in rags and tat-
ters. The afternoons in which the Large Family, or Er-
mengarde and Lottie, gathered to rejoice together were
very delightful. But the hours when Sara and the Indian
gentleman sat alone and read or talked had a special charm
of their own. During their passing many interesting
One evening, Mr. Carrisford, looking up from his book,
noticed that his companion had not stirred for some time,
but sat gazing into the fire.
" What are you ' supposing,' Sara? " he asked.
Sara looked up, with a bright color on her cheek.
" I was supposing," she said ; " I was remembering that
hungry day, and a child I saw."
" But there were a great many hungry days," said the
Indian gentleman, with rather a sad tone in his voice.
"Which hungry day was it?"
" I forgot you did n't know," said Sara. " It was the
day the dream came true."
262 A LITTLE PRINCESS
Then she told him the story of the bun-shop, and the
fourpence she picked up out of the sloppy mud, and the
child who was hungrier than herself. She told it quite
simply, and in as few words as possible; but somehow the
Indian gentleman found it necessary to shade his eyes with
his hand and look down at the carpet.
" And I was supposing a kind of plan," she said, when
she had finished. " I was thinking I should like to do some-
"What was it?" said Mr. Carrisford, in a low tone.
" You may do anything you like to do, princess."
" I was wondering," rather hesitated Sara — " you know,
you say I have so much money— I was wondering if I could
go to see the bun-woman, and tell her that if, when hungry
children—particularly on those dreadful days— come and
sit on the steps, or look in at the window, she would just call
them in and give them something to eat, she might send
the bills to me. Could I do that?"
" You shall do it to-morrow morning," said the Indian
" Thank you," said Sara. " You see, I know what it is
to be hungry, and it is very hard when one cannot even
pretend it away."
" Yes, yes, my dear," said the Indian gentleman. " Yes,
yes, it must be. Try to forget it. Come and sit on this
footstool near my knee, and only remember you are a prin-
"Yes," said Sara, smiling; "and I can give buns and
bread to the populace." And she went and sat on the stool,
" ANNE " 263
and the Indian gentleman (he used to hke her to call him
that, too, sometimes) drew her small dark head down upon
his knee and stroked her hair.
The next morning. Miss Minchin, in looking out of her
window, saw the thing she perhaps least enjoyed seeing.
The Indian gentleman's carriage, with its tall horses, drew
up before the door of the next house, and its owner and
a little figure, warm with soft, rich furs, descended the
steps to get into it. The little figure was a familiar one,
and reminded Miss Minchin of days in the past. It was
followed by another as familiar — the sight of which she
found very irritating. It was Becky, who, in the character
of delighted attendant, always accompanied her young mis-
tress to her carriage, carrying wraps and belongings. Al-
ready Becky had a pink, round face.
A little later the carriage drew up before the door of
the baker's shop, and its occupants got out, oddly enough,
just as the bun-woman was putting a tray of smoking -hot
buns into the window.
When Sara entered the shop the woman turned and
looked at her, and, leaving the buns, came and stood be-
hind the counter. For a moment she looked at Sara very
hard indeed, and then her good-natured face lighted up.
" I 'm sure that I remember you, miss," she said. " And
" Yes," said Sara; " once you gave me six buns for four-
" And you gave five of 'em to a beggar child," the wo-
man broke in on her. "I 've always remembered it. I
264 A LITTLE PRINCESS
could n't make it out at first." She turned round to the
Indian gentleman and spoke her next words to him. " I
beg your pardon, sir, but there 's not many young people
that notices a hungry face in that way; and I 've thought
of it many a time. Excuse the liberty, miss,"— to Sara,—
" but you look rosier and— well, better than you did that—
"I am better, thank you," said Sara. "And— I am
much happier— and I have come to ask you to do something
" Me, miss! " exclaimed the bun- woman, smiling cheer-
fully. " Why, bless you! yes, miss. What can I do? "
And then Sara, leaning on the counter, made her little
proposal concerning the dreadful days and the hungry
waifs and the hot buns.
The woman watched her, and listened with an astonished
"Why, bless me!" she said again when she had heard
it all; " it '11 be a pleasure to me to do it. I am a working-
woman myself and cannot afford to do much on my own
account, and there 's sights of trouble on every side; but,
if you '11 excuse me, I 'm bound to say I 've given away
many a bit of bread since that wet afternoon, just along o'
thinking of you — an' how wet an' cold you was, an' how
hungry you looked ; an' yet you gave away your hot buns
as if you was a princess."
The Indian gentleman smiled involuntarily at this, and
Sara smiled a little, too, remembering what she had said
to herself when she put the buns down on the ravenous
child's ragged lap.
" ANNE " 265
" She looked so hungry," she said. " She was even hun-
grier than I was."
"She was starving," said the woman. "^Many 's the
time she 's told me of it since — how she sat there in the
wet, and felt as if a wolf was a-tearing at her poor young
"Oh, have you seen her since then?" exclaimed Sara.
" Do you know where she is? "
" Yes, I do," answered the woman, smiling more good-
naturedly than ever. "Why, she 's in that there back
room, miss, an' has been for a month; an' a decent, well-
meanin' girl she 's goin' to turn out, an' such a help to me
in the shop an' in the kitchen as you 'd scarce believe,
knowin' how she 's lived."
She stepped to the door of the little back parlor and
spoke; and the next minute a girl came out and followed
her behind the counter. And actually it was the beggar-
child, clean and neatly clothed, and looking as if she had
not been hungry for a long time. She looked shy, but she
had a nice face, now that she was no longer a savage, and
the wild look had gone from her eyes. She knew Sara in
an instant, and stood and looked at her as if she could never
" You see," said the woman, " I told her to come when
she was hungry, and when she 'd come I 'd give her odd
jobs to do; an' I found she was willing, and somehow I
got to like her; and the end of it was, I 've given her a
place an' a home, and she helps me, an' behaves well, an'
is as thankful as a girl can be. Her name 's Anne. She
has no other."
266 A LITTLE PRINCESS
The children stood and looked at each other for a few
minutes ; and then Sara took her hand out of her muff and
held it out across the counter, and Anne took it, and they
looked straight into each other's eyes.
" I am so glad," Sara said. " And I have just thought
of something. Perhaps Mrs. Brown will let you be the one
to give the buns and bread to the children. Perhaps you
would like to do it because you know what it is to be hun-
" Yes, miss," said the girl.
And, somehow, Sara felt as if she understood her,
though she said so little, and only stood still and looked
and looked after her as she went out of the shop with the
Indian gentleman, and they got into the carriage and drove